When Christians talk about a Christocentric worldview, we typically mean that we have Jesus in the center of our little world, and that we are always focused upon the Person of Jesus. But could it be that thinking of Christocentrism in this manner holds inherent weaknesses that diminish our effectiveness as voices of hope to people in need?
I want to suggest that there is a better way of thinking about a Christocentric worldview, and that it is a way that more fully considers the things that concern God.
The hyper-extension of John Piper’s book Desiring God, and his unfortunately named doctrine of “Christian Hedonism” suggests that we are happiest when we find our pleasure in God and this in turn makes God happy. That is a simplified version of a doctrine, which defines God’s desire for His own glory as the highest of all purposes for God Himself. Thus, when we find all of our satisfaction in God that glorifies Him and His pleasure in us increases, because we are doing His will and fulfilling His highest purpose. This sadly slants toward some kind of success-first pseudo-Christian Capitalism.
The problem I have with this theological worldview is that it makes God concerned about Himself above all things. But I cannot survive a self-centered God. I do not think anyone can survive a self-centered God. A self-centered God is not self-sacrificing. A self-centered God is not a servant. A self-centered God is likely to have a conclusion to His patience.
So, if God is not concerned with God’s-self first, what is God concerned with then?
The story of Jonah shows God’s concern. Jonah, thinking about himself and his own people, and consequently for God’s glory, wanted judgment to fall upon the Ninevites. God wanted repentance to come to the people, so that they might be saved from judgment. When repentance did come, the story of God’s love for all the people of all nations came down to us from this ancient history.
Peter was given a dream. Three times non-kosher animals came down from heaven in a sheet, and Peter was asked to eat. He responded, and said, “Lord, you know I’ve never eaten anything unclean.” God responded back, “Do not call unclean, what I have declared to be clean.”
Peter’s dream was a picture of God’s declaration that He was reaching out to, loving, and choosing people from all the nations of the world. God’s eye was on us all, and so was His loving concern. God’s concern was less about His law, and more about people He loved. God is always looking outward.
A consistent world system of unselfishness demands unselfishness from the bottom to the top. Should there be any selfishness in the system, everything about the system will fall apart. This is the problem with our world as it exists now. The selfishness of this world creates a zero sum game, and stops the free moving flow of giving, serving, and caring for others. Every selfish act acts as a dam to the flow of the system. We live in a world of a million damming acts damning the entire project.
The commands of Christianity call us to an outward and serving lifestyle, and we do not have a hypocritical God who demands that we look outward to Him and to the needy around us, while He Himself looks inward to His own desires as the most important thing for Himself. His desires are most important, simply because His desires are the only selfless, and pure desires in this whole broken system. It is not God Who stops the flow of service, generosity, and love. It is we who actively stop the flow of what should be an unbroken chain of selfless giving.
These thoughts about the selflessness of God are key to understanding what it means to be Christocentric. Christocentrism does not mean we focus our attention on Christ in order to experience some kind of personal spiritual bliss. We focus our attention on Christ, AND on the things the unselfish Christ is focused upon. It is not that our earthly eyes only look to Christ. It is that our eyes see all things from the center position of Christ’s selfless love. We see others through God’s eyes.
A Christocentric life is a serving, giving, loving life. It is missional and outward focused.