Who’s at the center of your world?


I came across an interesting fact the other day. In studying about the history of map-making, I discovered that the ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander, who lived in the sixth century B.C., is credited with making the first map of the known world at the time he lived. Interestingly enough, the geographical center of that map was the city of Miletus. That is because the city of Miletus was where Anaximander was living at the time he made the map.

You know, that is a phenomenon that is not exclusively the property of ancient Greek philosophers. Isn’t it true that no matter where you or I go, we are the center of the universe, so far as we can see?

In fact, from the very first breath we take, we learn that we indeed ARE the center of the universe. As infants, we want what we want when we want it, and if those big people around us (we don’t know or care who they are!) do not give it to us when we want it, we scream bloody murder until they or someone else gives it to us. One study suggests that if that tendency is not curtailed and controlled by loving parents and caring adults as the child grows, he or she will grow into a life of delinquency, including criminal activities of all sorts.

But is that the way life ought to be lived?

The words of Jesus are helpful here: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). You and I affectionately know this verse as the “Golden Rule”. In the old King James version, it is the “Do unto others…” verse that we did not like so much. I remember growing up thinking that the verse should read, “Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you”. Then as I grew into adulthood, I recall thinking that the Golden Rule was simply, “Those with the gold are the ones who make the rules!”

Obviously, none of those interpretations, or others like them, are correct. This verse simply means “treat others like you want to be treated.” In order to accomplish that each of us needs to realize that indeed we are NOT the center of the world.

In fact, if we truly understand the meaning of that verse, we will think of others even more than we think of ourselves. A great example of this is the story of Alex Dovales. In 1994, Dovales was drifting toward Miami on a rickety boat with twenty-seven other Cubans. Two years later, Dovales saw fourteen exhausted, penniless Cuban rafters wash ashore on Key Largo and “felt like I had just arrived here myself.” The 25-year-old dishwasher, who clears $197 per week, walked home and gathered all the presents from under his Christmas tree. He gave the shirts and other clothing to the new arrivals. When asked about this tremendous but rare gesture of generosity, Henry Paezm Dovale’s roommate explained, “”They were wet and cold. Alex took off his shirt and gave it to them.”

Such generosity begins in reality with a spiritual perspective. Oswald Chambers noted: “The golden rule for your life and mine is this concentrated keeping of the life open towards God. Let everything else—work, clothes, food, everything on earth—go by the board, saving that one thing. The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God.”

Will you allow the “rush of other things” to obscure your concentration on your Lord today? Or will you behold his glory and be transformed into his image?

You can draw your map around yourself, or you can draw it around Jesus—but you cannot do both. C. S. Lewis: “Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find him, and with him everything else.”

Who, my friend, is at the center of your world today?

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected].

No posts to display