A recent study on keeping Christ in the center of our lives got my brain working. I actually taught this lesson to my Sunday School class, and
I’m not sure I got through to them I’m not sure they heard what I wanted them too. This is not a carbon copy of the lesson (except for 1 and 2) but it is what I want them to understand.
1. Draw the circle. Draw the best circle you can (with only paper and pencil). Compare circles and vote for the best. Show how to make a circle with an actual or home-made compass (string and a pencil). Talk about how having the center point of the compass helps us make the perfect circle.
2. Walk the dog. This one is done in the mental realm, but one could have an actual dog and leash. When the owner of the dog has him attached to a leash, the owner controls how far the dog can go. The dog may think he’s an 0n-his-own-big-boy, but he can only go as far as the master allows.
3. Tootsie Pops. Talk about what they expect to have in the center of their tootsie pop, and what would happen if they got to the center and found a snail or something else instead of that tootsie roll. Disappointment was given as a mild reaction and absolutely disgusted as the strongest reaction.
1. Keeping Christ at our center helps us to have a “perfect,” balanced life. There are no places where we have bumps going outside the circle or places where we don’t go far enough. Everything in our life is tethered to Him.
2. Tethering leads to walking the dog. When Christ is at the center of our lives, it is like He has control over how far we can go. I have often prayed that God would take ahold of my hand and never let go. Then, even if I start to pull away because I see some shiny object that looks interesting, I can only go as far as His arm allows me to go.
3. Tootsie pops should have a tootsie roll in the center. Right? Can you imagine biting into one and finding something gross in the center instead of that tootsie roll? Can you imagine even biting in and finding gum instead of the tootsie roll. It’s still edible, but it’s not what you were expecting. It is disappointing at the very least. Then imagine biting in and finding nothing, just a big hole where the tootsie should be.
My father had all but given up on finding the way to Christ by the time he entered the army. He had been baptized; he had been asked to ‘pray through’, but no one had actually told him how to accept Christ as his Savior. Along with that, Dad had found the Christians in his life to have something else in the center besides Christ. They were like the tootsie pop, offering something on the outside that looked good, but having a disappointing center or no center at all. After he left for the army, his mother, my grandmother, accepted Christ. They moved to Sandusky, Ohio and started going to church. My mother also attended church there. My grandmother decided Phil (dad) just had to meet this woman. She kept asking my mother to write him. My mother kept refusing. She was a Christian and didn’t date non-Christian boys.
Finally Grandma brought a stamped, addressed envelope and paper and asked her to just write him one time. If he did not respond, she was no longer obligated. The letter basically said, “I’m a Christian. I don’t _______, ________, or _________. If you’re ok with that, I will write you. If not, this is your last letter. She also enclosed a picture (which didn’t hurt).
When my father opened and read that letter, his first thought was, “This sounds like a real Christian.” He put her picture in his locker and wrote her back. His letters were often searching, asking, seeking to know the Christ that my mother knew so well, the one who lived in the center of her life.
They wrote for a year and a half. The Sunday he came home, he went forward in church and asked to join. The pastor asked, “Have you joined Jesus yet?” Dad told him no and someone finally showed him how he could join Jesus. Obviously, my parents were eventually married and one year later, I was born. My father surrendered to the ministry during this time and they struck out to live a life with Christ at the center. Were they perfect at it? Not! But they always sought to keep Him at the center of their lives. I believe they have touched many people over the years because of this.
Our intimacy with God — His highest priority for our lives — determines the impact of our lives.”
Dr. Charles Stanley – Life principle 1
It’s all about the intimacy
Keeping Christ at the center is all about our intimacy with Him. How do we develop intimacy with Christ? We do it the very same way we develop intimacy with anyone. We:
Spend time with Him (quality and quantity).
Read His love letter (the Bible).
Talk to Him (Prayer).
Learn as much as we can about Him (Experience, sharing with others, Bible study,…).
Talk to others about what He’s doing in our lives (witnessing, fellowshiping,…).
Trust Him (just as the dog trusts the master or the child trusts the parent).
Run life through His filter (what does He say/think about it vs. what the world thinks).
. . .
Have you ever met a Christian who could talk the talk, but was really empty inside? (Not really a Christian)
Have you ever met a Christian who got it partly right, but Christ was off center in their life? (Some things right, but still under strongholds of sin)
How did it make you feel? What impression did it make on you – about the person? – about Christ? - about Christians? – about Christianity?
Now go back to the first two questions and change out met with been. Have you?
We may be the only Christ others see, and keeping Him at the center of our lives brings balance to our life and glory to Him.
What’s in your center?