Maybe it is because I am reading Karl Barth again...
Maybe it is because it is the Christmas season...
Maybe it is because Jesus is getting my attention...
but I am remembering what it means to be 'Christocentric' in my understanding of God and the world. Christocentric meaning Christ-centered, meaning Christ is the beginning and the end (and everything in between) for knowing God and the knowing my role in the world that God created and rules.
I was asked today by a small group leader for a recommendation for a study on the life and teachings of the apostle Paul. I was reading through Galatians and I landed on v. 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."
I remembered the background on this verse and God revealed a new insight to me that I had never considered. The background is Deuteronomy 21:23 and the assertion in the law of Israel that "anyone hung on a tree is under God's curse."
Saul (before Paul) lived his whole life with this assumption in mind. This assumption was apart from the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ, his worldview was shaped by the assumption that anyone who was hung on a tree was under God's curse. The idea of God's anointed one (Messiah) fitting that description was a scandal!
BUT, just when he thought that he had God's ways all figured out, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed this specific assumption upside down and then turned Saul's world upside down based on God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ.
Apart from Christ (and his turning this curse upside down), Saul would have had no reason to question his understanding of God. Saul could have kept his interpretation of Deuteronomy 21:23 but he changed his view of God in light (revelation) of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This meditation challenges me to consider the conceptions of God that I have that stand apart from Jesus Christ and need to be reworked in light of Christ.
What "just when you thought..." assumptions do I have that need to be changed (repent = change of the mind)?
In his discussion of the doctrine of election, Barth reminded me to avoid relying on human experience or abstract conceptions as my starting point for knowing God when he says on p. 35 of II/2
It is only natural that in spite of all the accompanying good intentions and moments of truth, such statements and decisions are endangered by their doubtful and possibly erroneous starting-point. It is only natural that they can themselves become a danger, perhaps inevitably so. We must at this point recall the basic rule of all Church dogmatics: that no single item of Christian doctrine is legitimately grounded, or rightly developed or expounded, unless it can of itself be understood and explained as a part of the responsibility laid upon the hearing and teaching Church towards the self-revelation of God attested in Holy Scripture."
I'm looking forward to some more "just when you thought..." moments.