At The Very Center
22 October 2016
Reading: Job 9-10; Acts 15-16
8 And God, who can’t be fooled by any pretense on our part but always knows a person’s thoughts, gave them the Holy Spirit exactly as he gave him to us. 9 He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him. (Acts 15:8-9 MSG)
The Jews, even some of those who had converted to faith in Jesus Christ, still operated as if salvation started on the outside with obedience to a complex set of laws and rules and then worked its way to the inside as habits of behavior were formed. Peter reminded them (and us) that our new life in Christ begins at the very center of who we are – a new birth that occurs by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – and then works its way out from the very center of our being into changed attitudes and behavior.
Long-term Christ-followers have to be careful not to make the same error the Jews were making. We get used to the attitude and behavior elements of the Christian life and we functionally forget that transformation starts at the very center of every person’s being and then works its way out into changed values and behavior.
It’s a Spirit-born, Spirit-fueled transformation of who we are. Day by day, situation by situation, as we learn to let the Spirit of Christ prompt and teach and guide us from within, new life works itself outward from the very center and finds expression in new ways of thinking, talking, and behaving.
Let’s not be overly concerned with the stuff on the outside, as long as the new life is growing outward from the very center of who we are!
Father, I ask you to help me with two things today: Help me not to be satisfied with “approved behavior” on the outside of me, when there are still things at the very center of who I am that you are working to change. And help me not to be quick to judge others by external detail when I can’t see what you’re doing at the very center of who they are. Amen.