Christ-Centered? Or Church-Centered?

I’ve heard a lot of loose talk in recent years about how we ought to be more Christ-centered and less church-centered. “Teach the Man – not the Plan” is another slogan that goes along with this type of thinking. Such expressions only show that the person or persons making them are totally ignorant of who Jesus is and the relationship He sustains to His church.

I agree we need to be more “Christ-centered.” However, in becoming more Christ-centered we will, invariably, become more “church-centered.” In teaching about the Man, we cannot help but teach plan: it’s impossible to separate the two.

The Ethiopian nobleman was reading Isaiah 53 when he invited Philip to join his chariot and explain the passage to him. The text of Acts 8.35 states that Philip began “from this scripture and preached unto him Jesus.” The very next verse states, “And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8.35-36). Look at it again – let’s make this very plain: In verse 35 he preaches the Man – in verse 36 he applies the plan – you cannot separate the two!

What is the church? Ephesians 1.22-23 and Colossians 1.18 tell us the church is the “body of Christ,” not His physical body, but His spiritual body. How do you separate Christ from His body? We’re told we ought to magnify the “blood of Jesus,” that we are blood bought people and that we shouldn’t pay so much attention to the church. But wait a minute, just who are “blood bought people”? The Holy Spirit provides the answer in Acts 20.28 when Paul told the Ephesian elders to “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.” Christ purchased the church with His own blood!

So if a person wants to magnify the blood of Christ, he or she needs to understand they will also be magnifying that which was purchased with His blood – the church. To be bought by the blood of Christ is the same thing as being in the church purchased with His own blood.

The mission of our churches in Imperial and Holyoke is to preach the Man and the Plan. Our aim is to reflect as closely as possible the church we read about in the New Testament and to do everything we can in every way consistent with Scripture to help as many as we can become Christians. Pray for us all as we work together to fulfill our part in God’s plan for His church.

– Bill