We reckon individuals and groups to be eccentric if they are freakish, or just odd and unconventional in their opinions or behaviour. It means ‘not having the same centre’.
So, what is central? Or, more to the point, who should be the centre? The centrality of Christ is the key to fruitfulness in all aspects of life, especially church life. This for the Christian is a no-brainer. So, we would do well to check all facets of our personal and church life to see if Christ truly is the centre. To help us do this let’s look at those sections of God’s word showing Jesus ‘in the midst of’ various facets of ‘the church’.
Is he central to our church network?
The Bible’s final book is a prophecy that John, detained on the island of Patmos, was unable to speak personally to the churches of Western Turkey (known then as Asia Minor). So he sent messengers to read his cryptic visions in seven cities along a circular route; no doubt, churches in outlying towns (eg. Miletus and Colossae, Acts 20:17; Colossians 1:2) could be invited to attend the nearest centre. It is a time when ‘the Empire strikes back’ by enforcing public Emperor-worship, in which the people of God refused to participate. John assured them that the risen Jesus reigned ‘in the midst of the throne’ (Revelation 7:17), and was central to government of the universe from heaven, ‘in the midst of the elders’ (Revelation 5:6); as well as ‘walking in the midst of’ (Revelation 2:1) this network of his communities. Every church heard his instructive assessment of each of the others!
I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man … saying, ‘… Behold I am alive for evermore and have the keys of Death and Hades… [T]he seven golden lampstands …. are … the seven churches’ (Revelation 1:12 – 2:1).
Is he central in our congregation as the praise leader?
‘In the midst of the church (Greek ecclesia) I will sing your praise’ (Hebrews 2:12; Psalm 22:22).
According to 80-year-old Erskine Holt, in the Latter Rain revival of 1948, as the congregation sang in tongues, they heard the angels harmonising awesomely at a pitch right out of the range of human voices. And twice they heard Jesus serenading his Bride! (Zephaniah 3:17). How tuned in are we to discern his praise by faith?
Is he central as the arbiter in our interpersonal disputes?
Notice in Matthew 18:15-20 that: bringing the conflict ‘to the church’ should be a last resort. First, let the two brothers talk privately. If there’s no resolve, bring in one or two neutral witnesses. Even ‘in the midst of’’ those ‘two or three witnesses,’ ‘I AM’. If those few are: ‘having been gathered into my name’ (literal), he can then bring heaven’s governmental agreement (Greek symphonesosin!).