Why we must think in a Christ-Centered Way
I want to tell you about a phrase that you are going to hear a lot at Hope Fellowship; the "functional centrality of the gospel." And what we mean by this phrase (which is not original to us) is that at the heart of all that we do as Christians must be the gospel. And what we mean by gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ for our sins that can be received by faith. This is the good news. This is the gospel. And it must be central because everything else flows from it. Truths like forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation and mercy and adoption are true because the gospel is true. Then because those things are true, we can respond in loving others and forgiving others and being at peace with others. In short, like John says it, we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:17)
At the heart of the gospel and the Christian life is the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus is most excellent and above all and if Jesus is worthy of all the praise of the universe, then it would follow that for our thinking to be what Paul is calling for in Philippians 4:8, “If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise” then it must find it’s source in Christ. If we want to change the way we act, we must change the way we think and the way to change how we think is to understand right doctrine that is founded upon Jesus. He is the cornerstone.
So when we see this list that Paul writes about how to think, what we must not do is see it as a moralistic list of virtues like a greek philosopher might have seen it. But that we would read this list and say, because I know Jesus, and I have been saved, how should my thinking be rightly centered on Christ? How should truth about Jesus affect how I now think?
So if we want to “think about these things” we would do well to remember who is most true. Who is most worthy of honor. Who is just. Who is pure. Who is lovely. Who is commendable. Who is excellent. Who is worthy of praise.
In short, I would say that Christians should be those who are seeking to think in a Christ-centered way.
So that is what I want us to spend the rest of our time doing. Thinking about how we can grow in Christ-centered thinking and to do that we’ll just walk through Paul’s list in light of who Christ is.