I've been thinking over the past couple of days about the question of what is at the heart of a theocentric approach to life and ministry. I think it's two things.
It's first a foundational assumption that our lives are part of something bigger, "an adventure that is nothing less than God's purpose for the whole world." This quote is from Resident Aliens, and it gets to the heart of a theocentric approach to all of life:
By telling these stories, we come to see the significance and coherence of our lives as a gift, as something not of our own heroic creation, but as something that must be told to us, something we would not have known without the community of faith. The little story I call my life is given cosmic, eternal significance as it is caught up within God's larger account of history. "We were Pharaoh's slaves…, the Lord brought us out…that he might preserve us." The significance of our lives is frighteningly contingent on the story of another. Christians are those who hear this story and are able to tell it as our salvation.
That is the key difference between an anthropocentric and a theocentric approach. An anthropocentric approach is about our little stories, but it never connects these little stories to the true and expansive story of what God is doing in the world. In a theocentric approach, our little stories still matter, but they are swept up in the much larger adventure of what God is doing, in which we play a part.
Too often, we depict salvation as that which provides us with a meaningful existence when we achieve a new self-understanding…Here, with our emphasis on the narrative nature of the Christian life, we are saying that salvation is baptism into a community that has so truthful a story that we forget ourselves and our anxieties long enough to become part of that story, a story God has told in Scripture and continues to tell in Israel and the church.
Its secondly a hermeneutic. It is about translating Scripture not as a set of propositions or as a devotional model, but as the true story of the universe, of which we are a part. It isn't about making the Bible intelligible and relevant as helping people become relevant to the adventure of which their lives are a part.
This is the heart of theocentric preaching.