A God-centered life, then, is not found in feeding a constant craving for more, better, newer. Neither, however, is it found in embracing an ascetic aesthetic, eschewing the good gifts of God. He is the giver of every good gift, both contentment in abasement and a shiny new car. He is not impressed with our piety if we accept the former but turn up our nose at the latter, thinking ourselves too pure for such crass blessings.
The issue, then, isn’t the size of our bank accounts or the square footage of our homes. The issue is the perspective of our hearts. A God-centered life is one that gives thanks in all His providences. It was one of the wealthiest men of ancient antiquity who spoke these wisest of words: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
The issue isn’t in what we have but in what we want. What do we long for? What do we daydream about? How do we measure ourselves and the success or failure of our efforts? Who do we look up to, and what is it about them that we admire? The broader culture is obsessed with the rich and the famous. Tabloids at the grocery store, tabloid television, Internet gossip sites — these all feed our insatiable desire to know what they are like, how they live.
The evangelical world, as is so often the case, has its own version of the cultural phenomenon. We have rock-star preachers, Lollapalooza-like conferences and concerts, and, as well, Internet sites complete with all the latest gossip on who is hot, who is not, and the reasons why.
We, however, are in the world but are not to be of the world. We are called to aspire for not just something better but the one needful thing. We are called, in living a God-centered life, to seek God’s kingdom, to pursue God’s righteousness.
We are blessed to be shown the way to the one thing that will satisfy. A God-centered life, in the end, isn’t self-denying. It, instead, is how we find ourselves. Jesus said we would find our lives in losing them. Augustine said our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. And John Piper reminds us that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. The glory of the contentment, the blessing of the car, is not found in the contentment nor in the car, but in the Giver of these good gifts.
Our calling is to look through every good gift to the One giving it. He is the goodness in which the gifts live and move and have their being. He gives Himself. This is the path of life. Our end is that we would be in His presence, that we would rejoice to be there. His promise is not only that we will find pleasures at His right hand, but that we will find them forevermore (Ps. 16).