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Church 101: Jesus-Centered



“Now, when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’” (Matthew 16:13, NRSVue)


Since our local schools, colleges, and universities are all in full swing as the fall semester begins, I thought this might be a fitting time to offer a course on the basics of being a faithful church for Jesus Christ. In addition to the gospel lessons for each week over the five weeks of this series, I’m using our church’s five core values as the structure for a new sermon series, “Church 101.” You can read all five of our core values at https://www.fumcflorence.org/fumc-flo-focus.


This first week, I’m teaching our core value of being Jesus-Centered. We describe this value this way:


We passionately strive to stay focused on the life and teachings of Jesus. As we become followers of Jesus, we seek to honor God through living holy lives, sharing the love and grace of God with all people, and serving the church and the world faithfully through the strengths and gifts God gives us. (See Matthew 6:33)


Jesus asked his disciples in Matthew 16:13 to describe what people said about him. I’m sure he already knew; however, Jesus used questions to gauge their understanding of his teaching. After they shared what they’d been hearing, Jesus asked, “Whom do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). They could easily spout off what others were saying, but now it was time for them to reveal their personal beliefs about Jesus.


As I often say, who we think Jesus is and how we describe him impacts our view of God, ourselves, the world, and others. Jesus is the purest and most complete revelation of God the world has ever known. If we want to know the Father, we must know the Son. And the beauty is that we can continuously grow in an ever-deepening relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ, and with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus established the church as his Body to carry on his ministry following his return to the Father, so we must rightly place Jesus at the center of our lives.


As a church, Jesus must be at the center of our worship, teaching, evangelizing, and mission. Although I get to lead this amazing congregation, I’m not the head of the church—Jesus is! Although I get to teach regularly, I attempt to focus all my teachings in a way that reflects the heart of Jesus because what he taught is what we must take away each week—not what I taught. When we serve each other and reach out to our community, we are representatives of Jesus Christ, and everything we do must reflect his heart and passion.


This week we’ll look at what it takes for Jesus to be at the center of our lives, our church, and eventually, our world. Don’t forget to invite your friends to join you as we worship together!

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