What is at the center of your world? Health, Wealth, Prosperity, Relationships….? The list can be endless. What makes you feel valued, fulfilled, complete? As a Christian we are Complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). That does not mean that we have no need of other things, like food and clothing and even relationships, but that we do not derive our meaning or self-worth from them. Christ is truly enough. He is not just a Savior who delivers us from Hell and leaves us on our own. He is the meaning and the substance of our lives. He gives the good things we need. When all else is taken away, He is left and therefore He is at the center of all that we are. In addition, we need to realize that to say we “need” something else in order to be happy, complete or fulfilled is to deny that He is really sufficient. Whether it is a religious observance or a material desire, adding to Christ in order to be complete is really taking away from Who He is and What He has provided.
In France, in the midst of the Protestants being imprisoned, tortured, plundered and killed for their faith during the 1500’s, John Calvin wrote to the king from his exile. He addressed what came to be known as the Institutes of the Christian Religion, a defense of the Christian Faith, to him. Having lost his property and position he assured the King of where his loyalties lay.
Let it not be imagined that I am here framing my own private defence, with the view of obtaining a safe return to my native land. Though I cherish towards it the feelings which become me as a man, still, as matters now are, I can be absent from it without regret. The cause which I plead is the common cause of all the godly, and therefore the very cause of Christ—a cause which, throughout your realm, now lies, as it were, in despair, torn and trampled upon in all kinds of ways…… For so far have the wicked prevailed, that the truth of Christ, if not utterly routed and dispersed, lurks as if it were ignobly buried; while the poor Church, either wasted by cruel slaughter or driven into exile, or intimidated and terror—struck, scarcely ventures to breathe.
The cause of Christ and His Church was more dear to him than his worldly place or possessions. He was without regret that he stood at this loss. How would we be if we were forced from our homes, plundered, tortured and saw our friends and family murdered for simply believing in Jesus? This would certainly be the thing that would show whether Christ is truly at the center of our lives.
But we live in a far more dangerous environment. An environment like that of the Colossians where pluralism and synchretism are the accepted norms and Jesus is given, more often as an addendum to life rather than the Source and Goal of it; where we fit Him into our agenda instead of seeing ourselves in His plan. Making Him our kind of Jesus makes Him no Savior at all. It is only when we live out of who He is and what He has provided for His people that we can begin to give Him His rightful place. It is only then that we can be fulfilled and complete and see this world as a means rather than an end. Again, as John Calvin wrote from his place of exile in the midst of this horrific persecution, he was able to say this about God;
… we must be persuaded not only that as he once formed the world, so he sustains it by his boundless power, governs it by his wisdom, preserves it by his goodness, in particular, rules the human race with justice and Judgment, bears with them in mercy, shields them by his protection; but also that not a particle of light, or wisdom, or justice, or power, or rectitude, or genuine truth, will anywhere be found, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause; in this way we must learn to expect and ask all things from him, and thankfully ascribe to him whatever we receive. For this sense of the divine perfections is the proper master to teach us piety, out of which religion springs. By piety I mean that union of reverence and love to God which the knowledge of his benefits inspires. For, until men feel that they owe everything to God, that they are cherished by his paternal care, and that he is the author of all their blessings, so that nought is to be looked for away from him, they will never submit to him in voluntary obedience; nay, unless they place their entire happiness in him, they will never yield up their whole selves to him in truth and sincerity.
Maybe it was the removal of all the important things from His life that God used to help him see this great truth. Again, we are in the more dangerous place where this truth is obscured by temporal blessings. O, that we would see it in spite of our blessings!
You can hear audio of the sermon by clicking on the link below.