[Listen to post here.]
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When my oldest son, Timothy, was a toddler, one of his favorite toys was a colorful pull-along train engine. What made this train rather unique was that when it was pulled across the floor, it wobbled from side to side. The way the toy manufacturer crafted this little piece of magic was by slanting the axle so it attached to the wheels just off-center, high on one side and low on the other. As the wheels turned, the off-centered axle would tip back and forth so that the train would pitch and roll as it went.
It was a very cute and ingenious design for a little child’s toy.
When it comes to being off-center, though, that’s where the cute ends…
If a real train was designed that way, it wouldn’t be cute or ingenious at all. It would be a train wreck.
Imagine, for a moment, if your car had the axles connected off-center, and you were traveling down the highway at 60 miles per hour. If the car didn’t violently shake apart, or end up flipped over in a ditch, you would probably be covered head to toe with cuts and bruises from being tossed around inside the cabin. That’s what a little off-centeredness can do to you!
Think of how many things that we use in everyday life that just wouldn’t work properly, safely, or at all, if the center were off on some working part of them. Take, for instance, lawn mowers, fans, CD/DVD players, hard drives, sweep-hand clocks, watches, roller shades, door knobs, hinges, drills, circular saws, pumps, propellers, engines, washing machines, dryers, blenders, treadmills, skate boards… to name just a few. Anything that employs a wheel, a pulley, a gear, a sprocket, a screw, a spindle, or a roller would be rendered useless if those mechanisms did not have their center right. Most everything that mechanically moves would no longer be functional. If it weren’t for things being centered, life as we know it would cease to exist.
If something is out of center, there is a technical word for it: “eccentric”. It literally means, (“ec-“) “out of” (“centric”) “center”: “out of center.”
According to the dictionary, “eccentric” refers to something “deviating from the recognized or customary character, practice, etc.; irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd.” In geometry it means, “not having the same center”; in machinery, “having the axis or support away from the center”, and in astronomy, “deviating from a circular form, as an elliptic orbit” (Dictionary.com). When something is “ECCENTRIC”, there is nothing normal or balanced about it. It is odd, peculiar, distorted, misshapen, imbalanced, quirky and erratic.
The Centrality of God
God, however, is a God of order, perfection, fullness, balance, symmetry, beauty, wholeness and purity. There is nothing about Him that is odd, peculiar, distorted, misshapen, imbalanced, quirky or erratic. There is nothing about Him that is “eccentric”.
At the Center of the Father’s non-eccentric heart, lies that which is the Focal Point of all of His infinite love, passion, desire, pleasure, jealousy, satisfaction, intention, purpose, zeal and goodness. That Focal Point is none other than His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is where the Father’s heart is eternally centered. This is where all of the Father’s will, work and Word are perpetually focused. The Center of all things is irrevocably established within and of the Father, and He has ordained that all of time and eternity revolves around and consummates in His Son. (Ephesians 1:9-10)
In relation to His eternal purpose, the Father has decreed, “that in all things He (Christ) might have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:18) All of creation, redemption, the Church and the Kingdom have an Epi-Center… a Center which is above all else.
There are no rivals to this Center. There never have been and there never will be. As with a perfect circle, there is only ONE Center. There are no other options, alternatives, or choices. This Center is not determined by personal preference, cultural norms, historic developments, religious traditions, pragmatic expediency or popular vote. It is not up for debate. It is One, and only One, established by the Father, from everlasting to everlasting.
God and His eternal purpose are marked by Centrality, not eccentricity, and that Centrality is in Jesus Christ, the Beloved Son of the Father.
As with mechanical systems which only function and operate according to their design when properly centered, so it is with spiritual “systems.” The Kingdom of God is an immense spiritual “system” that, by the Sovereign design of God, functions and operates according to the principle of Centrality. The Church, likewise, by the Sovereign design of God, is a spiritual “system” that functions and operates according to the principle of Centrality. When God’s ordained Center is in place, with all things revolving around and oriented to Jesus Christ, the Church “works” according to God’s design. When anything else, no matter how good or godly it may be, takes His central and supreme place, the church becomes “eccentric”, and becomes, shall we say, “functionally challenged.” It “deviat(es) from the recognized or customary character, practice, etc.; “ and becomes, “irregular; erratic; peculiar; odd.” As with the example of the car with the off-center axles, this is never a good thing.
The Church is ordained and designed to gather around the Person of Christ as its unrivaled Center and under the Person of Christ as its uncontested Head. When it does, the Church is marked by four essential characteristics: unity, purity, fullness, and balance. These are the essential characteristics of a Christocentric spiritual system. It is impossible for these attributes to be missing when Christ is truly central and supreme, for these are essential attributes of who He is. That which gathers around and under Him will naturally take on these same characteristics.
Conversely, if any of these attributes are found to be lacking, it is a clear indication that Christ is not actually central and supreme in all things, and that something else has taken His place in some respect(s). In such a situation there will be found the essential characteristics of an eccentric spiritual system: disunity, impurity, diminishment and imbalance. Where these are present, the root cause can be easily and accurately diagnosed as spiritual eccentricity.
When sin and rebellion entered God’s creation, with the ascending spirit of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-15), the Centrality of God’s Kingdom was assaulted. Lucifer wanted to usurp that central and supreme place that belonged to God the Father and His Beloved Son and establish himself as the center of all worship and authority. He was eccentric at heart, having higher regard for himself than for God and His Divine order. In fact, all sin and rebellion has at its root self-centeredness, and, therefore, is eccentric at core. God knew that if His Kingdom were to be overtaken by such cosmic eccentricity, it would throw the entire system into disorder and chaos and bring utter destruction to it. To keep the perfect unity, purity, fullness and balance of His Kingdom, therefore, eccentricity, in all of its forms, had to be judged.
Following this intrusion of Luciferic eccentricity into the creation, and its subsequent spread to humanity in the Garden of Eden, the entire history of redemption ensues. This history will ultimately culminate, in the fullness of times, in all things in heaven and earth being regathered and brought back to the centrality and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:9-10) As all eccentricity is purged from God’s Kingdom, perfect unity, purity, fullness and balance will be restored to all things for the eternal ages.
In this unfolding drama, the Church plays a crucial role. She is the firstfruits of the work of redemption, and the beachhead of the Kingdom of God on the earth. She is also the instrument through which God has chosen to embody and, thereby, display His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms according to His eternal purpose in Christ. (See Ephesians 3:10-11) Since the primary issue in this unfolding drama is the battle over Centrality and Supremacy, it is most essential that the Church be delivered from all forms of eccentricity and that the centrality and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ be established within her and displayed out through her.
Likewise, it must be known that Lucifer’s primary objective is to frustrate this plan by sowing as much eccentricity into the Church as possible in order to destroy the testimony of Christ in and through His chosen vessel. This eccentricity comes not only through the eccentricity of sin, rooted in self-centeredness, but also through any spiritual “thing” that distracts from and/or usurps the place of Christ spiritually in the Church. It doesn’t matter how spiritual or godly it is, as long as it something other than Christ which takes the central and supreme place and thereby sows eccentricity. This, in turn, invariably leads to Satan’s desired ends of disunity, impurity, diminishment and imbalance.
This spiritual eccentricity generally centers around some facet of the “things” of God becoming preeminent over Christ Himself. If Satan can get one portion of the Church centered around one thing, and another portion centered around another, so that Christ is even slightly sidelined in each, he’s got his eccentric foothold in the church. [For some of the major historic examples of this, please see the post, “Centrality and Balance“.
This eccentricity is also sown in the Church by its various assemblies coming under independent authorities so that one portion has one person or entity as its head, and another portion has another. In doing so, the supreme Headship of Christ over His Church is usurped and the unified testimony of Christ is disintegrated in the ekklesia.
Centrality and Supremacy, therefore, are the two primary battle lines in this conflict. This is where the enemy is persistently focused. He doesn’t need to outright destroy the church from without, or utterly corrupt it with sin from within. He merely needs to get it off-center enough, with that which is good, so that the deleterious effects of eccentricity will eventually work through the entire batch of dough.
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As the Church, we must fight most ardently and arduously to recover the surrendered ground of the centrality and supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. Only as Christ regains His rightful place, as our unrivaled Center and uncontested Head, will the Church be able to fulfill her high and holy calling. Only then will she manifest the Kingdom fruit of unity, purity, fullness and balance. Only then will she be able to exercise all authority over the enemy, the author of all eccentricity.
This is the battle we are in. The question remains, will the Church line up with God’s ordained Center, or continue to follow the disintegrating ways of eccentricity. The answer waits to be seen!
___________________Related posts and pages :
Centrality and Balance
Christ the Center (Foundations Series)
The Headship of Christ in the Gathering of the Church
The Cross: The Unlevel Playing Field of Satan’s Defeat Affirmations (2) – Christ the Unrivaled Center of the Church