When Christ-Centered is Not Christ-Centered
I had an interesting experience today reviewing some children’s curriculum materials put out by a Christian publisher. The publisher claims, in big bold words on their web site, “Christ-centered”! They offer the chance to download and sample a good representation of the leader and children’s materials in their program. I was dismayed and shocked that in all the download materials, the only time I saw mention of Jesus was in the obligatory, “In Jesus’ name, Amen” tagged on to the end of prayers. But not a word about the Gospel or Christ anywhere else in the materials. None. Zero.
Let’s be clear about something. If Christ is not at the center of what you are talking about, what you are talking about is NOT CHRIST-CENTERED. If you are not explaining, proclaiming and teaching the good news of Christ, what you are doing is NOT GOSPEL-CENTERED.
Here’s a great quote from Martin Franzmann I found on Pastor Strey’s blog site, that speaks directly to this point.
Many have found the idea of an actual redemption, a ransoming with a price, by the substitution of a Life for the lives of many, an offensive one, unworthy of the God of love. The idea of “redemption” is therefore limited by them to the idea of release from servitude without any idea of purchase. Paul does use the word family of which “redemption” is a member simply in the sense of “deliverance,” without any direct suggestion of a price paid to secure the deliverance (e.g., Rom. 8:23), as the Old Testament also does. But where, as here (i.e. Rom. 3:24) and in Eph. 1:7 and 1 Cor. 1:30, the death of Christ is in view, the full sense of redemption is surely present. It should be noted that Paul also uses the ordinary Greek word for “purchasing” with reference to man’s redemption, with the price either expressly mentioned (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23) or strongly implied (Gal. 3:13; 4:5). The idea of substitution, which lies at the heart of redemption-by-ransom, finds drastic expression in Paul’s letters: Christ was made to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), He became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). It is doubtful, moreover, whether any Greek-speaking reader could fail to associate the idea of price with the word which Paul uses for redemption. Words of this family were commonly used for the freeing of slaves by purchase and for the ransoming of prisoners of war. These considerations forbid any softening-down of the austerity of the New Testament revelation concerning the death of Christ. God’s grace was a costly grace. He “ransomed” men from their ruined past “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-20) and did not spare His Son (Rom. 8:32). God gave Him the cup of judgment to drink (Matt. 26:39; John 18:11), He smote the Shepherd (Matt. 26:31), He forsook Him on the cross. (Matt. 27:46)
…But if we dare not take away from the revelation, we dare not add to it either. We dare not make of the God of grace an irate pagan deity whom someone else must mollify. For it is the God of wrath and judgment who Himself supplies the redemption. He sent His son to do the redeeming work that makes men sons of God (Gal. 4:4 f.). He put forward Christ Jesus “as an expiation by His blood.”