Home > Christ and the Gospel > Christ-Centered or Just Religious? Three Ways to Tell

Christ-Centered or Just Religious? Three Ways to Tell

March 8th, 2010
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1. Your reaction when things fall apart.

Do you catch yourself saying, “God, why is this happening? I’ve done x, y, and z?” Do suffering, difficulty, and obstacles provoke “why?” questions predicated on your goodness or effort? You’ve been working so hard, reading your Bible, going to church, serving others . . . why would God let this happen to you now? If that’s your line of thinking, it reveals you believe God owes you. And that’s religion, not Christ-centered thinking.

2. Your reaction to others.

Do you compare yourself, bad or good, against others? Do you belittle, mock, condescend, even if just internally? Do you resent others’ successes? Do you celebrate others’ failures? Do you really wish people would get their act together, or do you really wish people knew Jesus? Are you frequently annoyed, put out, irritated, embarrassed, or inconvenienced by others? Is it about you, or others? If you, that’s religion, but not Christ-centeredness.

3. Your appraisal of Jesus.

Is he your greatest treasure? That’s the number one indicator of gospel-conformity. You may know right off the bat if this is true or not. For some, it’s true only sentimentally or religiously. You may think it’s true ultimately, but your time, talents, words, emotions, and bank account testify differently. These are all heart issues. Anybody can get the behavior right. The Pharisees certainly did, and most of them went to hell. But this isn’t even about looking Pharisaical or legalistic or churchy. There’s a lot of Christian hipsters out there in coffee shop churches who have no idea they’re just religious, not Christ-centered.

HT: Jared Wilson via Justin Taylor; ed. PTM

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Categories: Christ and the Gospel
  1. March 8th, 2010 at 13:49 | #1

    A poignant spiritual check-up, as long as one is honest with oneself of course….

  2. Jen
    March 8th, 2010 at 14:15 | #2

    Why is the word “religious” getting such a bad rap? They’re pouring a negative meaning into an otherwise objective word.

  3. Al
    March 9th, 2010 at 15:58 | #3

    This is good, but the question that comes up is, How do we get from one to the other?

  4. RK
    March 9th, 2010 at 18:49 | #4


    Hear, hear. How true. Religious and religion is of God. Unless, of course it is of one of the many ‘false-religions’. The statement should be ‘ that’s false-religion, not Christ-centered.’

  5. March 12th, 2010 at 08:02 | #5

    Regarding #1, there is an appropriate “why?” In fact, Job and David are prime examples of asking “why?” in the midst of suffering that Scripture commends as an example of faith. Even our Lord from the cross cried out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But as you point out the why does predicate on you own goodness or effort. There’s the rub… just wanted to highlight the appropriate why?
    See especially, Psalm 10, 22, 42, 44, 74, 80, and 88…. the why always put God’s alien work (that is judgement, etc) against God’s proper work (that is his mercy and steadfast love).

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