In an earlier post, I used the phrase “God-centered,” and there was at least one challenge that concerned what I meant by it. Let me have a quick go at explaining.
First, let me note what I do not mean. I do not some form of Stoicism, where we try to pretend that how it goes with us is a matter of indifference just so long as some duty “out there” is fulfilled. We are created by God as desiring creatures, and what we desire is what we desire. The distinction between a virtuous man and a corrupted man is therefore not a matter of one not desiring things and the other one wanting them desperately. The distinction between holiness and unholiness is found in what is desired, not whether something is desired. So a “God-centered” approach does not consist of us going numb. Quite the reverse actually — the idols make you numb.
Too many professed believers want to believe in Jesus the same way an astromomer discovers a new planet. They want their own ego, their own standards, their own baal grove in their heart, to remain the center, and they now want “Jesus” to begin revolving around all of that. The previous planets were job, career, relationships, etc. and now Jesus. But real conversion is more like a Copernican revolution. Jesus is now the center. Everything must revolve around Him. I and all my concerns must be centered on Him, and on His glory.
Now to continue the metaphor, I still live on my planet. And when the sun shines on me, I still enjoy it. “God-centered” does not mean that some pious surgeon has to deaden all my nerve endings. But it does mean that I now know where the sunlight originates, and I know where to give glory. But the one who gives glory rightly receives pleasure rightly.
God-centered worship exults in the river of pleasure at God’s right hand. God-centered worship does not say, “Shut up, worms, the Scriptures will be read now.”
When God is properly justified, this is the joy of all justified men. But unjustified men bridle at it. You can tell when someone is kicking against the right kind of God-centeredness when they murmur against any justifications of God that assume that in any controversy between God and man, God must be in the right, by definition.
This is an emotional problem, not an intellectual one. Of course God must be right, by definition. That doesn’t mean that the untamed heart has to like it.
“Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2).