How do you read the Bible? To find rules to obey, to discover spiritual insights for your life path, or memorize answers for doctrinal debate? Dane Ortlund posted several weeks back on the Resurgence blog about transforming your Bible reading. He wrote, “Biblical theology reads the Bible as an unfolding drama, taking place in real-world time and space, that culminates in a man named Jesus.”
We call this type of theology “Christocentric” (aka “Christ-centered”). The Bible is truly God’s grand story of redemption in the world he created, and that redemption is found and fulfilled in Jesus. Therefore, the way we view the creation, the fall, redemption, and future glory should be centered upon him.
If we have an anthropocentric (aka human-centered) view of the world or Scripture, we will inevitably make life and redemption about us. Grace will not longer be grace, and we will make God a debtor to us. Salvation will not be a free gift–it will be something we have earned and deserve.
We cannot even have a view of the world and redemption that is centered on others. Why? Because no human being–not even a spouse or child–can bear that responsiblity. Ernest Becker wrote, “If your partner is your ‘All’ then any shortcoming in him becomes a major threat to you…What is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to this position?…We want to be rid of…our feeling of nothingness…We want redemption–nothing less. Needless to say, humans cannot give this.”
The Bible does not let us go either of those ways, however. We could discuss dozens of passages all over the Bible that declare this, but one passage in particular stands out about the rest in calling us to a Christocentric view of Scripture and all of life. Colossians 1:15-22 says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
How glorious! We could spend years on this paragraph, but notice the linchpin of the text: all things were created through him and for him. Was anything made through you or for you, or through or for any other human for that matter? I don’t think so.
If my world is Jamescentric, I will be a miserable and mean wretch of a man, isolated from others and void of purpose, meaning, significance, and love. But if my world is Christocentric, Jesus will be my supreme delight and ultimate end, and in him there is complete joy and pleasure forevermore (Ps. 16:11).