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What does it mean to be theocentric?


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Question: "What does it mean to be theocentric?"

To be theocentric means to live in a way that puts God at the center of life or makes Him the main focus of life. To be theocentric is to be “God-centered.” A theocentric life is lived in the understanding that all things flow “from Him, and through Him and to Him” (Romans 11:36). By contrast, an anthropocentric life puts man at the center. Existentialism puts existence at the center—just living is meaning enough—but theocentrism points to God as the meaning and ultimate motivation for what we do; God gives us our identity and purpose. As the Westminster Confession states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This is a theocentric viewpoint.

It is rational to believe that finite, limited beings can find the most satisfaction when focused on the infinite, unlimited God. In times of our weakness, we find strength (2 Corinthians 12:9); in times of spiritual lack, we find fulfillment (Matthew 5:6). And the fountain never runs dry because God Himself is eternal. Putting God at the center of our lives—living theocentrically—naturally gives a finite human existence eternal meaning. Theocentrism has what existentialism and anthropocentrism do not: a focus that goes beyond the life we see around us. Living a life with God in the center encourages virtues like mercy, peace, humility, selflessness, and environmental stewardship. If, however, one is convinced that experiencing this life is all there is, the goal becomes gaining and experiencing as much as possible, as soon as possible. Unfortunately, living for the moment often leads to misery in the form of addiction, unwanted pregnancies, broken relationships, and other regrets. Living for humanistic, anthropocentric goals also has its problems—if the advancement of man is the highest good, ambitious leaders can justify almost anything to ensure the progress of humanity—even, ironically, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

No doubt, a theocentric life is promoted in Scripture. God, the Author of life, deserves to be the focal point of our existence. And God assures us that happiness is found by keeping Him central. A man who delights in God’s law and meditates on it is blessed “like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3). The man who believes in Christ will have “rivers of living water” flowing from his heart (John 7:38). Like branches on a vine, loaded down with grapes, those who “abide” in God bear much fruit (John 15:5). In God’s presence there is “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). When we walk by God’s Spirit, being led by Him, we naturally exhibit the fruit of His Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). A believer living a theocentric life is portrayed as cleansed from all that is dishonorable, like a beautiful silver vessel, useful to the master of a great house (2 Timothy 2:21). By any measure, a theocentric life is a good existence.

Recommended Resource: Who am I?: Identity in Christ by Jerry Bridges

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What does it mean to be theocentric?

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