there is room at the table

What Do We Mean by
Jesus Centred?

Jesus Centred is central to how we see the church at the Table. You might wonder, “Isn’t every church Jesus Centred”? Let us take a few minutes to explain what we mean by this term.

(We have written about ‘set theory’ and how it applies to the church over here. If you are not familiar with the idea, it would be good to read that first.)

In thinking about being Jesus Centred, it is helpful to look at a few images.

 In the above image, you have a typical bounded set. There is a circle with people inside and people outside. It is abundantly clear who is in and who is out. If the circle represents a church, that boundary could then represent specific beliefs, or behaviours, of various other factors and are necessary to belong. The point is that this is a clear demarcation of who is in and who is out.

Say you just remove the boundary as in the image below. That simply makes everything confusing. It is people, but this image says nothing about them other than they seem to be in relative proximity to one another.

 

But what if we add a centre? And as you’d probably guess, that centre is Jesus.

 

The obvious response may be to look at that image and think, “oh, certain people are close to Jesus, and some are far away”. But this raises a whole other set of questions:

“How close to Jesus do you need to be to be a Christian?”

“How are the person ‘closest’ to Jesus and ‘furthest away’ related?”

 

In the final image, we add one more aspect to this, orientation. In a Jesus-Centred community, our connection or belonging is determined not by our present standing but by our orientation.

Are we oriented towards Jesus or away from him?

In the previous image, we may look at a person close to Jesus and assume they are “better off” spiritually than someone much further away.

But what do you say when the individual far away is oriented and heading towards Jesus, and the person closer is not? Who is in a more desirable situation?

Important Aspects of a Jesus Centred Model.

 

A Jesus Centred model places the focus on Jesus rather than Church attendance or specific behaviours.

Skye Jethani, in his book, What if Jesus Was Serious About the Church? notes that our language has shifted so that we refer to people as “churched” or “unchurched”, which clearly shows what we consider important. Unfortunately, just as you can be “schooled” and not learn, you can be “churched” and have no connection with Jesus.

A Jesus Centred model Deemphasises “the Other”.

Bounded sets make it clear who is in and who is out. And to be out means you are not one of us. We live at a time when polarization is increasing…and it is ugly and deadly. Centred sets create fewer assumptions about people. Rather than judging based on where someone is currently, we extend grace as we recognise we can’t know a person’s heart.

A Jesus Centred model emphasises that faith is a journey rather than a destination.

The goal has never been to “get in”, whether that is through saying a prayer or ascribing to a set of beliefs. A Jesus Centred model makes it clear that what is important is following after Jesus…from wherever you currently are. This is a life-long pursuit rather than a test we pass.

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Are there other advantages you see to being Jesus Centred? What questions does this raise for you?

The post A Jesus Centred Approach to Church first appeared on bobwilson.ie.

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