I was sitting in a bar on an evangelistic Q&A panel. It was Cambridge University in the mid 1990s. Suddenly, an audience member stormed to the front, grabbed the microphone in front of me, turned it around and shouted, “You believe in one God, right?” I was pleased something we’d said had connected, so I simply shouted back above the din of general merriment: “Right!” The audience member then replied with equal volume, “So that means you think all the other gods are wrong, right?” There were a number of things about that question I would have liked to respond to with significant theological subtlety. But given the circumstances, it seemed nuance wasn’t likely to be attained. So I simply said (with a big smile), “Right!” With a look of horror on her face, my interlocutor shot back: “How can you be so arrogant?” Compelled by the love of God, we on the panel had been making known the glory of Christ’s grace. But for that person—and for many others today—a claim to exclusive devotion to the biblical God came across as arrogant, if not downright dangerous.
How can we live the God-centered life in this contemporary age? You could answer this question in a way that’s understandable to a child, as well as in a way that would strike a Harvard professor as intellectually credible.
Here I offer five ways to live the God-centered life, not because they’re the only ways, nor because they’re the best, but because, after working in university towns from Cambridge to Yale to Wheaton, they strike me as the most critical for today’s 18 to 30 year olds.
1. Immerse yourself in the all-sufficient wonder of the God who is.
Immerse yourself — not in the fictionalized God of the blogosphere or the caricatured God of whichever God-hater is spouting their self-referential critique with God-given intelligence — but in the God who reveals himself in Scripture, in conscience, in creation, and ultimately in Christ. Let that beautiful, brilliant, all-powerful, transcendent, immanent, wondrous God—who cleared out the religious compromise of the temple and the hypocrisy of the Pharisee, who spoke the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, and who died for the sins of the world — drive out the pagan idols of our culture’s fascination with making gods of our own imagination. And let him leave you in awe.