What Is Your Red Hot Center?

by Mary Stephens
Feb. 2018

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Not long ago I saw a commercial on YouTube by journalist Bob Woodward who has an online course that you can take to improve your writing and research skills if you are or want to be a journalist. The thing that struck me was his comment about going to the red hot center of what is important in someone's life because that is where the real story is, where the truth is about them.

This is something that kind of bothers me at times about a lot of Christians, and about myself as well. There are so many voices in our world today calling us to causes, problem solving, "passions," and so forth. This is one thing that frustrates me when I see people writing or posting about things that they view as "extremely urgent" but that are not things worthy of being the red hot center of their lives.

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Living one's life for a cause, pouring as much of your energies and resources into it as you possibly can, may be a good and useful thing but only if it is a biblical thing.

Here are some examples -

No matter how hard you strive for perfect health, it will eventually fail you. Unless you die in some tragic accident or event, you will probably suffer the discomforts of failing health and/or old age at some point. Trying to maintain an acceptable level of health to be able to serve the Lord in the work and calling He has given you is a commendable thing. Micromanaging your health and diet in order to feel "completely healthy" may be pretty much a waste of the time and energy God has given you. I know because I've been there, and it didn't make my life more productive or more pleasant. It only made me more distracted. My necessary dietary requirements are quite enough trouble without diving into a lot of complicated things that make life harder and only somewhat better.

Too many Christians are preoccupied with trying to fix the world from a political angle. So many Christians, especially in America, seem to think that it's their job to save the world from its sinfulness and the misery which comes with that. This is not our job. Only Jesus Christ can do that. We are to preach the gospel and hold forth the words of life, but when it comes to radical change on a large scale ("making America great again" etc.) it isn't going to happen by making laws or forcing people to behave themselves. Only salvation in individual lives can make this kind of change in a culture.

When the Welsh Revival happened (probably the second one in 1904), there were huge changes in the local culture. One story tells of a bar owner who had been holding out and keeping his doors open although he had fewer and fewer customers. Finally, he was forced to close down and give up, not because the Christians had passed laws, not because they were picketing the bar/pub, not because they had had his license revoked. He had to close because so many people had believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and been saved that he no longer had enough customers to stay open. This is how real life change happens - in the hearts and souls of the men and women.

Sports is another area where people will become completely absorbed in something that is, eternally speaking, utterly pointless. While it may offer some good vanity (exercise, discipline, team participation) on the local level, the higher levels offer nothing but entertainment and an identity that has nothing to do with Jesus Christ in the long run. Yet, some people become completely distracted and obsessed about their favorite sport or team when it is the season for that sport. It has gone so far in the U.S. now that some churches in the recent past have actually televised the Super Bowl in their church buildings on "Super Bowl Sunday" in order to make sure their congregants who bow at idol of American football will attend evening meetings that day.

Marriage and family has also become a preoccupation for many Christians these days. The exultation of the "beautiful Christian home" has reached an idolatrous state in the imaginations of some. The impression is too often given that unless you have a "good Christian family" you either will never amount to anything in Christ or you are a failure. This is not sound New Testament teaching, and church history (of which many Christians are woefully ignorant these days) proves that there have been many who came from terrible homes, who never married or who never had "families of their own" who were mighty men and women of valor for the Lord in His church.

Do you see what is meant by "the red hot center" of a person? It is that thing around which you have built your life, your ideals, your dreams and/or you endeavors. It is that issue, that subject, that thing which is above all to you, the thing that most stirs your passion and effort, that fires your imagination, the subject which you cannot help but talk about.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Let me ask you this, if you were arrested and taken into court to be tried as a Christian, could the prosecution prove that you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ from you Facebook page, your Twitter, your Pinterest or even your Instagram? Would you be condemned based on the things you do, the places you go, and the people with whom you spend your time?

Where is the church going? What are we doing? What is our passion? What is the "red hot center" of your life and mine as individuals?

Ultimately it should be Jesus Christ.

Not church, not the praise and worship service, not music, not preaching, not writing, not work, not one's occupation or profession, not sports, not luxury, not a big house, not hobbies, not politics, not Ladies' Bible study groups, not success, not art, not marriage, not having children, not sex, not having a "lovely home," not being a good wife (or husband), not parenting, not homeschooling, not so many other things. Because, you see, if our "red hot center," our passion, our driving desire of life is to walk today, this hour, this moment in fellowship with Jesus Christ, in God's will, all of those other things will fall into their rightful places, either in our lives or out of them as the case may be.

The "red hot center" of our lives should be to have the mind of Christ in every area of life.

Some people may be tired of reading this verse in my writing. That's Ok. It is something that burdens me often in observing the way many Christians think, and the way I think myself. If we would do this one thing - LET the mind of Christ be in us - so much in our lives would take its proper place.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

When Saul, who became Paul, fell to the earth and was confronted by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, he asked this question, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6) If this was the burning desire of our hearts every day, how differently we would live! Our lives would be something so much more worthwhile.

graphics and backgrounds by Mary Stephens
Candle graphic with quote created at AZQuotes.com
CA