As Christians, are we often guilty of making Christianity all about ourselves rather than all about God? Do we tend to put ourselves at the center of God’s universe rather than rightly placing Him at the center of our universe? Do we tend toward an exclusive focus on all the personal “blessings” we reap from God rather than focusing first on His person, His kingdom, and His ultimate glory? The answer is “Yes.”
Christianity (and for that matter, Evangelicalism) in the United States has indeed become a very “Me-focused” enterprise. People often choose their churches based upon what they and their family will “get” in the way of spiritual perks, preferences, and programs. Many Christians seem to be drawn to the type of worship and preaching that dominantly focuses on soul therapy and self-improvement rather than truly knowing God. In such churches, any sense of the peril of sin, personal sacrifice, and divine holiness is downplayed in the name of being “attractive” to the world in order to show them the “love” of God.
What the church in America needs is biblical revival and spiritual awakening. We need to get on our knees and get a right perspective of who we are in light of God rather than always viewing God in light of ourselves. We do indeed need to return to a biblical understanding of the centrality and supremacy of God in all things. But as we seek to swing the pendulum away from man-centeredness and back to God-centeredness, must we abandon every mention of “Me” as an object of God’s glorious redemption? Is it wrong for us to sing “Jesus Loves Me?”
The answer to that question is a resounding “No!” In our desire to restore a biblical theology of God’s glory to the church we must not throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We must restore the primary realities of our faith to their proper level of emphasis, but in the process we must not discard the precious truths that were once sinful preoccupations. What we need comes down to two things: Biblical Perspective and Biblical Balance.
In terms of biblical perspective, God’s person and His revelation of Himself in Scripture must be the standard by which all other things are prioritized and proclaimed. God is love, and God does indeed love us, but His primary motivation in redemption is the glory of His name in our hearts and among the nations. More specifically, God is glorified as Christ is lifted up before all men (John 17:1-3). Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation;” “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together;” therefore, He is “to have first place in everything” (Col 1:15,17,18).
Thus, the church must recover both a theology and a methodology that exalts Christ for the glory of Almighty God. In all that we do – our worship, preaching, teaching, serving, praying, giving, evangelism, and fellowship – Christ the Savior must be lifted up and God the Father must be seen as ultimate; we must have a biblical perspective that aligns and evaluates everything else in light of His person and purpose.
In terms of biblical balance, the exaltation of God in Christ must certainly be the primary focus and motivation of all we do, but maintaining this priority does not preclude us from celebrating and praising God for what He has done FOR US. In 1 Timothy 1, though he used the word “me” a lot, Paul was not being “Me-centered” in recounting his salvation and calling to ministry. In fact, his remembrance of all that Christ had done FOR HIM is what led him to a doxology of praise in verse 17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.”
One of the most well-known songs of praise in the Bible – Psalm 23 – recounts the personal benefits and blessings of knowing God as one’s Shepherd. Is David being “Me-centered” when he sings this Psalm? No! He is rightly rejoicing in the fruits of grace wrought by God in his life. In fact, I believe it is the blessings recounted in Psalm 23 that lead him to exalt God as the “King of Glory” in Psalm 24.
In summary, we should strive for a biblical perspective in all things – a perspective that keeps God and His glory at the center. But this perspective does not mean we must divest ourselves of anything that speaks of the personal benefits of salvation. Biblical balance is the need of the hour. We must remove man from the throne and put Christ there, but it is not wrong to rejoice in the fruits of His grace. God is glorified when we speak and preach and sing of our victory in Jesus, our freedom from the law through faith, and the amazing grace of God made available to us at Calvary.
So sing “Jesus Loves Me” with all your heart, “For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15)