Asking Christ into your heart is only the first step in the Christian life. Salvation is the start of the journey, but what’s next? How do we move forward into Christ-centered living? What does Christ-centered looking really look like?
What Makes Christ-Centered Living Different?
Most people go through life looking for satisfaction in the things around them. But Christ-centered living means turning away from the temptations of the world and putting our focus first and foremost on Christ. So money, success, pride, and desire should be put aside so that you can follow the call of Jesus: the call to generosity, service, humility, and purity. It’s an incredibly high calling, and no easy feat, but it’s what Jesus wants of us. And it starts with this:
Love the Lord
The greatest command is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Jesus said that this sums up the entire Law and Prophets (the Hebrew Bible). For Christ-centered living, this command basically states that you need to have God at the center of every aspect of your life. He’s not just at the top of your list, or part of the daily tasks to complete. Instead, God is the driving force behind every decision, every thought, and every reaction you make.
But this command has a second part, and this second part is what makes your living meaningful on this side of Heaven.
Love Each Other
Along with loving God, Jesus states that the second greatest command is like the first: Love your neighbor as you love yourself. So, between the two, we see that God’s ultimate call in our lives is not only to center our lives on God, but then to act upon that in a way that shows love to everyone around us. And by everyone, it means everyone. The lonely, the broken-hearted, the sick, the poor. But, also, the proud, the arrogant, the cruel, the deceitful, and the angry.
Why? Because that’s who Jesus loved. Everyone. We were all precious in His sight, and He came to earth to offer salvation to every human soul. No one deserves grace, and no one can earn it. So our call isn’t to make our lives matter for our own sake, but instead to make our lives significant for the sake of the Cross. To give praise and worship to the One who made our salvation possible.
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If we center our lives on first loving God and then loving each other, we’ll see change happen faster than we can explain it. Doing this will also lift shadows from parts of our lives we didn’t expect to need change. For me, there are three areas that I consistently see Christ-centered living working to rebuild.
Putting God at the center means focusing my everyday choices and actions on Him. I choose to learn more about God daily through Bible study. I work to look more like God in my interactions with others as well, down to what clothes I choose each day.
I am daily discovering that my money isn’t a goal, but a means to help others and to spread the name of Jesus. I give more freely, I don’t obsess over tithing, and because I choose to live in abundance, I find joy in seeing others live in abundance.
When I was younger, I was living for whatever whims drove me hardest. Now, my priorities are focused on building a Christ-like life that reflects Jesus in every way. I had to let go of some of my old habits, but I gained new patterns that were much better.
How Does Christ-Centered Living Start?
In my teens, God was a badge to wear—a bracelet with “WWJD” on it. It simply meant that I was in another club with lots of rules and regulations. It was legalism and criticism, not freedom and forgiveness. Today, I see it much differently. And a good portion of that change came from a few major learning experiences with people who truly know Jesus.
Let’s dig into the themes I see in Christ-centered living.
1. Christ-Centered Living Takes Bible Literacy
If you want to become a more skilled musician, you need to learn the foundations of music, and how to apply those concepts to your personal practice and performance. If you want to live a Christ-centered life, you need to learn the foundations of the faith, and how to apply the most incredible story of all time to your daily choices.
This starts with Bible literacy—knowing how to read scripture. Without a firm understanding of how the Bible has been designed, we are left with out-of-context, feel-good quotations on one end and completely bonkers rules and regulations on the other. The world is struggling to reconcile these two extremes, and it’s ending in “deconstructing faith” and leaving the church. It’s seldom because the Bible was poorly written or antiquated, but instead because we can’t put into context what God is speaking to His people.
It’s time to start building a proper framework that puts the Gospel, the belief that Jesus Christ is the purpose and completion of the scripture, and that He is the One True Way to salvation, at the center of everything we do. And that starts with reading the Bible with wisdom and context.
2. Christ-Centered Living is About Your Walk with Jesus
So many people who claim to be Christians today are simply looking for a quick-fix, guru-style upgrade to their lives. Maybe even just some justification for the choices they make. Their identity remains intact in their worldly convictions, leaving them only a hollow shell of what true Christ followers should be.
If you want true Christ-centered living, you need to drop your personal identity and pick up the identity of Christ. This doesn’t mean losing every interest you have or changing your personality from fun-loving to reserved. It means seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus, who saw every human being as a unique and completely loved creation of God.
Don’t know where to start? Start in the Gospels. Read John or Luke, Mark or Matthew. What you’ll see is a man who approached people, no matter who they were, with truth and grace. You don’t need to be perfect to have a relationship with Christ. But you do need to be willing to learn from him. Dig into scripture, and find resources that help you understand what Jesus was saying. Without historical and scriptural context, you’ll struggle to live out God’s design.
3. Christ-Centered Living Means Generosity
No one wants to hear this, but following Jesus means making Him a priority in whatever we do. Including our finances. God loved a happy giver, not because God is money-hungry, but because someone who sees their financial assets as tools to build others up is the kind of person who truly brings the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
It starts simple: start giving to your church. Trust that what you put in will come back out multiplied, and that it will truly make a difference in the lives of people who desperately need Jesus (that’s everyone, by the way).
Even more important, you are resetting your mind to a system of abundance instead of scarcity. If you give, you’re saying that you know God provides more than enough. And once you start seeing plenty where you once felt strapped, your view on everything starts changing.
And that’s when you start seeing through Jesus’s eyes.
4. Christ-Centered Living is Making God Part of Everything You Do
A lot of people say that God wants to be at the top of your list. But I do t think that’s quite right. God wants to be in EVERYTHING on your list—not just he top spot to be crossed off and forgotten.
So, when you get ready in the morning, you’re taking time to connect with and Worship God. When you drive to work (or walk across the hall to your home office), you’re keeping God in the center of your preparations. And when you encounter people—anyone at all—you’re bringing the message of Christ to your time with them, even if it is only in your attitude.
We can make anything at all a god in our lives if we aren’t diligent in our walk. If we guard our hearts and center our lives around scripture and prayer, we can keep the One True God where He belongs—at the core of every choice we make.
Start Your Christ-Centered Living Journey With Your Spouse
Now that we’ve explored these big ideas, how will you start living them in your life? What can you do today? Tomorrow? Here’s an easy and inexpensive investment: Find a devotional you can work through with your spouse. With strong leading questions, a foundation in scripture, and a vision towards living out Christ’s call in our lives, my devotional Faith and Action: Living Out Christ in Your Marriage Through the Lens of James, you can work together to better understand what God designed marriage to look like.
Not only will you and your spouse be able to dig deep into scripture, including its context and application, but you can also use these short and easy-to-apply devotionals and reflections to start meaningful conversations with other couples that will transform your lives. Best of all, you can start right now with an instant digital download of the book!