Earlier this week, I published a blog titled Jesus-Centered: Embracing the Authority of Jesus in Scripture. As I have reflected these past few days, I have become increasingly frustrated with what I published. My intent was to describe the Way of Jesus as could be read by all audiences. Instead, I produced a defensive narrative aimed at my Christian brothers and sisters with possibly differing theological understandings of scripture. While effective at what it accomplished, I would like to try again.
What Does it Mean to be Jesus-Centered?
I think the Way of Jesus is best summarized using his own words. When questioned on the greatest commandment, Jesus replies:
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-40 CEB)
In summary, love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor likewise.
This may seem like an oversimplification, but at the same time, it is beautifully simple. Difficult, yes, but not complex. Further, in studying Jesus’ example, we see that the two are not separated - he loves God along with loving neighbor, and by loving neighbor. It is in these few examples that Hill City’s Moving Forward series take a glimpse into the way of Jesus. In these aspects listed below, we as the Church as challenging ourselves and one another to live this Jesus-Centered life.
We see Jesus embrace doubt without shame, and with tangible example:
Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” (John 20:24-29 CEB)
We see Jesus be generous with orthodoxy and show his Kingdom through others’ beliefs:
[Speaking to a Samaritan woman] The woman said, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you and your people say that it is necessary to worship in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you and your people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You and your people worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know because salvation is from the Jews. But the time is coming—and is here!—when true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth. The Father looks for those who worship him this way. God is spirit, and it is necessary to worship God in spirit and truth.” The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.” Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” (John 4:19-26 CEB)
We see Jesus practice the mission to deliver peace:
Whenever you enter a house, first say, ‘May peace be on this house.’ If anyone there shares God’s peace, then your peace will rest on that person. If not, your blessing will return to you. Remain in this house, eating and drinking whatever they set before you, for workers deserve their pay. Don’t move from house to house. Whenever you enter a city and its people welcome you, eat what they set before you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘God’s kingdom has come upon you.’ (Luke 10:5-9 CEB)
We see Jesus embrace others as their own:
The legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?” Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37 CEB)
As one who is attempting to be a Jesus-centered disciple, it is my striving goal to be one who reflects these God and neighbor-loving qualities of Jesus. In all my interactions, I hope to be one who embraces your doubts and questions, gives grace to your beliefs, delivers peace, and cares for your needs as if they were my own. This is what it means to be Jesus-Centered.
Like what you see here? Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington for the conversation and our Q&A.