Christ-centered living


What is the place of personal repentance and obedience in a Trinitarian, Christ-centered Theology? If all are included already in God's love and life, why repent or behave?

In his epistles we see Paul address this through a very carefully crafted Christ-centered logic that has to do with our union with Jesus. His "Christ-o-logic" as it pertains to the individual, unfolds in three progressive steps:
  • First Paul declares that in Jesus, we belong. This is the gospel declaration: we are included, through Jesus, in God’s love and life. God has done this for us (and, indeed for all humanity), quite apart from any work or merit of our own. It’s a gift of God’s grace.
  • Second Paul invites us to believe. This is the gospel invitation to repentance and belief (trust). This too is God’s gifts to us. We believe in Jesus, because we belong to Jesus (and notice that belonging precedes belief).
  • Third Paul exhorts us to become. This is the gospel response of Christ-centered living—our now active participation with Jesus in his love and life—his relating to God and to other humans.

We believe in Jesus, because we belong to Jesus, and in union and communion with God through the Spirit, we become like Jesus. It’s all of grace and all about the life we share with Jesus through the Spirit. As an example of this logic see Colossians 3:1-17.

Comments

  1. This is also the natural order of human existence.

    First we are born into a family. We belong to our parents, siblings, grandparents, etc., before we ever know or believe anything. In fact we are quite ignorant about our belonging for a long time!

    Then we begin to believe the truth about who we are. We come to know and understand ourselves as distinct individuals within a family.

    Finally we learn to behave according to the values and norms of the family to which we have always belonged.

    Belief and behavior could never exist unless we belonged first. No Dad would ever say to his children "if you believe I am a real being then you will be my child." Instead parents say, just like our heavenly Father, "you are my child! I love you! You will always belong to me! So, believe the truth about yourself and behave accordingly."

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  2. Well said Jonathan. This is (in my view) indeed Paul's Christ-centered logic - or said another way, this is how Paul is thinking with and out of the mind of Christ who, himself, is the source of our being and the means of our inclusion in God's love and life as his dear children.

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