‘Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders’. Revelation 5:6
We often used to sing ‘Jesus be the centre’, a lovely song with sincere lyrics: ‘Jesus, be the centre, be my source, be my light, Jesus.’ The problem is though, that the words may reflect our perception but they do not reflect reality. Jesus cannot be the centre because we wish Him to be – He IS the centre. Many may choose to deny this, or be ignorant of this truth, but this does not change reality.
When Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven He continued to live in transformed bodily form. He is not just a memory of a man who once was, He is alive and real, and at the very centre of reality. This is why John the revelator described Jesus, the Lamb of God, standing in the centre of the throne. This why the book of Acts records how ‘Stephen , full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”’ (Acts 7:55-56) This is why we must understand that Jesus IS, not was, or even will be, the living centre of all things.
So the centrality of Jesus, Christocentricity, is not just a concept, it is a term that describes a relationship with the living lord. To be Jesus-centred is therefore more than singing or theologising about Him, it is about relating to Him as the central person in our lives and in our churches.
The Bible is our inspired reference to who Jesus is and what He is like, but the Jesus it speaks of is not pressed between its pages like a rare but dry flower from the past. Nor is the Jesus the Bible describes a religious icon or a historical artefact. Jesus is alive! He is as described in the scriptures but He is not a literary character, He is a living being.
Religion honours a historical Jesus and studies His teachings in order to determine laws for living. Relationship seeks to know Jesus, to learn about Him from the ‘then’ of scripture so that He might be real to us in the ‘now’ of living. To acknowledge that Jesus is both alive and central to life is to talk to Him, minister with Him, make joint decisions together with Him, and to experience daily life with Him.
But here is the problem – how do we make the transition from an intellectual knowledge of the historical Jesus, to a real relationship with the living Lord? I am going to explore this question in the Blog posts that follow but in the meanwhile I would really value your insights – what do you think are the key components to making this transition from religion to relationship?
My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.
Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.
I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus
I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.
If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.