Gospel clarity is crucial. There is a growing concern that the centrality of the gospel message is muddied. A growing entitlement culture along with a consumer-driven lifestyle is creating what I call “the third circle.”
I told someone recently that Jesus is not a piece of luggage we through in the trunk of our car as we make the journey through life. He is also not someone we put in our back pockets and pull Him out when we need something.
Jesus is Lord. When we asked Him into our life, we willingly yielded to His leadership in exchange for His love and life both now and throughout eternity.
I received the Lord at the age of sixteen and everything changed. His love filled my heart and a desire to know and serve the Lord became my chief goal in life. Nobody handed me a rule book or a long list of do’s and don’ts. Simply, the things I used to love (ungodly living) I started hating and the things I hated (like going to church) I started loving.
I really could not explain it fully. I knew nothing of theology, the work of the Spirit or sanctification. What I did know was something changed so powerfully on inside of me that it clearly impacted my thoughts and behavior.
The Four Spiritual Laws
Soon after receiving the Lord I came across The Four Spiritual Laws. The Four Spiritual laws really helped me understand what salvation was all about. It is written by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1952 and this tool is still used widely by many believers.
The two circle illustrations (below) represent our life before Christ and after Christ.
Circle 1: The Self-Directed Life
S – Self is on the throne
Cross – Christ is outside the life
Circles – Interests are directed by self,
often resulting in discord and frustration.
Circle 2: The Christ-Directed Life
Cross – Christ is in the life and on the throne
S – Self is yielding to Christ.
Circles – Interests are directed by Christ,
resulting in harmony with God’s plan
When we receive the Lord, Jesus is to always be enthroned in our lives and our interests are to stay in harmony with His Lordship. The more we know and love the Lord the more consistent the above reality becomes. The love of God is being poured into our hearts and His love is impacting every area of our life for His glory and unto His likeness.
The Third Circle
A third circle is now appearing. I tried to illustrate it below. The circle represents people who claim to be living for the Lord but are willfully living for themselves. They continually live their Christian life by pleasing themselves first, then God. It’s a weird consumer-entitlement-ungodly grace-life dipped in Christian(ese) and it seems to be somewhat pervasive.
Circle 3: The Self-Centered Life
S- Self is the center focus and on the throne.
Cross – Attempts to use Christ to serve self.
Circles – Interests are directed to self for self
resulting in a frustrating attempt to use God to satisfy personal desires.
“It’s All About Me”
“It’s all about me” is the bottom line of those living in this circle; my rights, my freedoms, my prerogatives, my desires, my choices.
I am not talking about our occasional fight between the flesh and the spirit, something we all struggle with. Those found in this circle have made an intentional choice to please themselves first and Jesus second. In fact, Jesus is often used to get what they want.
They pick and choose what they like and don’t like in the Bible and live accordingly. We see it revealed in their lifestyles; ongoing adultery, promiscuity and co-habitation to name a few.
The Third Circle Will Never Satisfy
This “third circle” will never satisfy anyone. Run from it as fast as you can. Living to please ourselves and using Jesus as a means to that end is profane, dishonoring and unfulfilling. In fact, this kind of living slowly removes the wonder of His grace and positions us to try to manipulate the very God we claim is Lord.
Live With Jesus Enthroned In Your Heart
I understand I am royalty, His son and a joint-heir with Jesus. I know God loves me and truly cares for me. I realize that I am truly valuable to the Lord and He has set His affections on me. He celebrates me and dances over me with joy. I realize all this and more.
But the truth is, it’s not all about me, it’s ALL about Him. He is Lord and I am not. My part is vital, yes, but it stays under the Lordship of Jesus. This is proven by honoring Him with my words, my thoughts and actions trusting that He knows how I am wired to live.
Am I perfect, no way, but I choose to live daily to become more like the Lord.
Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I don’t know about you, but the very least I can do is to bring Him honor, praise and glory in exchange for what He has done for me. I choose to always have Him on the throne of my heart and nowhere else.
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