MAN CENTERED OR GOD CENTERED LIFE
Humanism is the worldview that sees man as the center of all things.
The Greek philosopher, Protagoras, was the first to coin the phrase: "Man is the measure of all things.” There is no more succinct phrase that sums up the essence of Humanism. Protagoras expressed his idea about 500 B.C. at the same time that the voice of the Hebrew prophets went silent.
Modern humanism is partly a reaction to the theocracy of the Middle Ages. It appears to offer liberation from the repressiveness of theocracies - state sponsored religion- and allows man to set his own course apart from religious interference.
The central idea in humanism is that man is the center of his own universe. He is accountable to no one - only to himself. He therefore makes rules to suit himself. It is the prevailing philosophy and worldview that governs our secular society today. Man decides whether something is good or bad, what code he wants to live by, and what he chooses to call good or evil.
There is nothing new in today's secular humanism. It wasn't even new when Protagoras expressed it about 2,500 years ago. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve decided to be directed by their own ideas rather than by the voice and instruction of their Heavenly Father. When they ate of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil they were choosing to ignore the counsel and voice of God their Heavenly Father. They launched out on their own to determine their own destiny (to be "as God") by deciding for themselves what was good or evil. They ignored the counsel encapsulated in the Proverb,
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths." (PV 3:5-60)
The Bible reveals that in going our own way and ignoring God's counsel we create enormous problems for ourselves. It reveals that we were designed by Our Creator to function in partnership and dependence on Him. Separated from the care, protection and wisdom of God, Our Heavenly Father, we fall into traps and create much misery for ourselves.
Humanism, while promising a brave new world, creates a world of strife, misery, meaninglessness and despair. Like an electric appliance separated from the power mains, man separated from God is systemically dysfunctional. When man chose to go his own way and moved away from the protection of His Heavenly Father - he also came under the dominion of evil spirits that darken his consciousness and oppress every aspect of his life.
Humanism & Contextualization
Contextualization is a word used by missionaries to express the necessity to adapt to the indigenous culture to which they bring the gospel. A good evangelist makes no effort to export his personal culture to the people group he is seeking to reach. He is aware that he brings a message that can transform people from the inside. The missioner is aware that while culture is variable, his message is nonnegotiable. He is steward of an everlasting eternal and unchanging gospel, contained in the Word of God.
Contextualizing is necessary - the danger however is that in our effort to contextualize the gospel we also alter our message and not just the culture in which we package the message.
In our efforts to express the gospel in the context of today's humanistic and materialistic society it is important that we do not adopt the humanistic and materialistic world view of the culture we are bringing the gospel to. When we bring the gospel to the humanistic people of the 21st century we cannot turn the gospel on its head and make it man centered rather than God centered. We may be tempted to present the gospel as God's way of meeting human need like some heavenly welfare system. God is indeed our provider and supplier of our every need but only as we return to Him and center our lives on Him and His ways.
A humanistic - man centered - gospel makes God the servant of man's agenda rather than man being the one who is invited to participate in God's agenda. It fails to deal with the primary sin of man, which is that he chooses to make himself the center of his own life and goes his own way, rather than acknowledging that God is the center of all. This is the weakness of much of Christianity in the West today. We depart from the truth of the Word of God distorting it to make God fit in with our ways rather than we fitting in with God's ways.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa 55:9)
Spiritual Copernican Revolution
In 1543 the Polish astronomer, Nikolaus Copernicus, caused a revolution in science. He proved that contrary to the universally held belief that the Sun revolves around the earth, the opposite is true: the earth revolves around the Sun.
Today we need a spiritual Copernican revolution to make us realize that man revolves around God rather than God revolving around man. We have it all wrong if we think we are the center of the universe. God is the center not man. We need God centered Christianity rather than man centered Christianity. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence." (Col 1.18)
The self-centered believer seeks to appropriate God's promises and blessings for his own personal ends. The God centered believer, on the other hand, relies on the same promises of God's provision, protection and supply but the perspective in which he views them is completely different. As the prodigal son discovered: you cannot enjoy the Father’s blessings when you are far from home and running away from Him. To align with God's provision and blessing requires we turn from our own ways, plans and opinions and turn back to Him. Man centered Christianity seeks to appropriate God's blessings without returning home. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you," (Matthew 6.33)
As CS Lewis says, "God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing."
As we build on the Rock of Christ and not on the sand of self we will be established.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matt.7.24)
The Call To Repentance
Repentance is not simply turning to receive God's forgiveness and blessings. It is more than that. Repentance is the joyful return to complete dependence on God, Our Loving Heavenly Father, to live in His care and blessing, to make Him the center of our lives, to seek His ways, to receive His Spirit and completely redirect our lives to live for His interests and not for our own. "You were bought with a price do not become slaves of men." (1 Cor. 6.20)
Without faith it is impossible to see God. Without repentance it is impossible to connect with God.
Let us fully return to Him, make Him the center of all, and then receive all He has for us in His Kingdom