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The Center

solar-system-montage-browse.jpgIsa 46:9-10 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Col 1:15-19 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Col 2:8-10 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

The importance of the center.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Center dynamics.

  • Heart; nucleus; focal point; nub; foundation; core.
  • Headquarters; the hub; control center; nerve center; the brain;
  • Ideas originate in the center.
  • Control operates out of the center.
  • Purpose, direction and value emanate from the center.
  • Forces go out from and back to the center.
  • Solar system revolves around the sun.
  • Moon revolves around the earth.
  • The force of gravity exerted by the sun keeps the solar system in orbit.

In 1543, Nicolas Copernicus published his treatise “The Revolution of Celestial Spheres” where a new view of the world was presented: the heliocentric (sun central) model. Before Copernicus, people believed that the earth was the very center of the Universe. But Copernicus was able to prove otherwise - that it is the sun (not the earth) that is central in the solar system. This discovery shook both the religious and the scientific world. The ramifications were extremely dramatic. Man’s view of the world was forever changed!

Copernicus’ theory was not at all popular initially. Even though the new treatise was dedicated to the Pope, it was considered heretical both by the standards of religion and science. Such was the outrage at such a thought (that the world was not the center of the Universe) that many scientists, including many theologians, would not even look through Copernicus’ telescope! The traditions of men, in the arenas of both science and religion, were that strong.

Yet Copernicus was right and his revolutionary idea was needed if forward progress was to be made.

Spiritual examples and truths based upon center dynamics.

  • Tree of knowledge of good and evil was located in the midst of the garden.
  • God is in the middle of the earth according to Exodus 8:22.
  • The tabernacle was at the center of the camp of Israel. (Numbers 2)

The centrality of the Word.

Ps 119:10-16 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. 11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. 12 Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. 13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. 16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

What does it mean to place God at the center of your life?

Richard Foster, a Quaker, tells a story about a time of temporary homelessness in his childhood during which he learned how to find home in God, giving thanks for it. He calls it “his grateful center.” When he was seven, his parents wanted to move from their home in Nebraska to the West Coast. But they ran out of money before they reached their destination and spent the winter in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains . What was surely a very difficult time for his parents was heaven to this little boy.

For, unlike the coal furnace of their old house, the cabin had a big fireplace. And every night, Richard slept near it on a sofa bed under a big, heavy quilt. He wrote: “Night after night I would fall asleep, watching this strange yellow blaze that warmed us all. I was in my grateful center.”

  • Your guiding principles of life come from God.
  • Your ultimate meaning in life is embodied in God.
  • Your goals and purposes in life focus on God.
  • Your true happiness in life is defined by God.
  • The one indispensable component of your life is God.

The past week or so has had me filled with a whirlwind of thoughts, concerns, and emotions. My heart has been weighed down with sadness over how some things have progressed in my life of late, including and most especially among Friends.
During worship, though, I was made to understand that I had been placing myself at the center of my concern:
How was I going to get through this?
How was I going to deal with whatever decision I would make in the end?
When I remembered that God is at the center of my faith, when I returned God to that center, I felt a shift inside me. My breathing lightened. My burdens lightened. The fog cleared a bit from my very fuzzy brain.
I can’t say that I’ve reached clearness about how to move forward with certain difficulties, but I can say that I’ll be paying attention to where I am and where God is in relation to how I view my experience in the world over the next couple of days.
It’s as if this simple affirmation, God is at the center, has helped me detach from the worldly worries I was carrying. Detach, yes, but not be so far removed from things that I will slip into denial or procrastination. But by detaching just a bit emotionally as a result of putting God at the center, I have gained some emotional breathing room and a different spiritual view of what I am facing.
Pretty cool.

Our greatest struggles in life stem from focusing on things that are not at the center of the spiritual universe. The farther we move from the center, the more trouble we encounter in the outposts.

The fact is that we often fail to keep God at the center of our lives.

  • Relationships.
  • Family.
  • Personal welfare.
  • Job.

By pointing these things out, some may think that anything not at the center is unimportant. Not true. Just because the earth revolves around the sun doesn’t mean that the earth is not important. But if the earth left its orbiting path and went out on its own, it would be plunged into temperatures so close to absolute zero that everything would freeze.

There are extremely important components or institutions in our lives that must have God at the center if they are to work right and retain their value.

Relationships work best with God at the center of your life.

There are some people who believe that they should put their husbands or wives; boyfriends or girlfriends; mothers or fathers before their relationship to God. In fact, many have been led to believe that to put others first is putting God first!

Eph 5:22-33 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. NKJV

2 Cor 6:13-18 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
17 Therefore “Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.” NKJV

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.(miseo: to love less)

Your family works best with God at the center of your life.

  • Family has become more than just sacred in the modern scheme of things; it has almost taken the place of God.
  • Family activities are given priority over worship.
  • Sins are overlooked if they are committed by family members.
  • Family traditions and beliefs supersede the Word of God.
  • More sacrifice is done for family than for God.
  • As a result, people expect to get all of their love, satisfaction, happiness and joy from their families—-many times with bitter disappointment.

Family togetherness that does not have God at its center loses its sacredness.

  • Lot’s family shared the fate of their father.
  • Achan’s family shared the fate of their father.

Would You Do It Any Differently?

One father said, “My family’s all grown, and the kids are all gone. But if I had to do it all over again, this is what I’d do:

1. I would love my wife more in front of my children.

2. I would laugh with my children more—at our mistakes and our joys.

3. I would listen more, even to the littlest child.

4. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection.

5. I would pray differently for my family:instead of focusing on them, I’d focus on me.

6. I would do more things together with my children.

7. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise.

8. I would pay more attention to little things, like deeds and words of thoughtfulness.

9. And then, finally, if I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.”


Your personal welfare is best with God at the center of your life.

How do people put their personal welfare ahead of God?

  • By wearing the “It’s all about me” t-shirt.
  • By becoming vain, self-centered and proud.
  • By dismissing the teachings of the Word when it conflicts with their ideas. By seeking fame, popularity and acceptance with the world.
  • By rejecting spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, faithfulness.

Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? NKJV

Your job works out best with God at the center of your life.

  • Some people put their jobs at the center of their lives.
  • They sacrifice anything to keep their job.
  • They will move anyplace, pay any price or abandon any previous commitment in order to maintain their job.

Here are some precautionary words from the scripture:

1 Tim 6:6-10 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. NKJV

1 Tim 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. NKJV

This does not mean that one should never transfer from one place to another because of a job. It does not mean that one should not accept promotions or even search for a better job. It does mean that the job should never become the center of our lives.

  • When we look to our job for life’s meaning, it has become the center.
  • When we bow to any demands the job makes on us, it has become the center.

Your church works best when God is at the center of your life.

Rev 3:1-3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. NKJV

Isn’t the church the most important thing in your life?

Okay, I admit—-it’s a trick question. God is the most important thing in your life. But, when God is in the center of your life, the church will function beautifully and properly.

  • Sardis was a good church, but there were people who demanded things of it that were not ordained of God.
  • The church is what it is.
  • It is not your savior; it is not the panacea to your every problem.
  • Just as a hospital is not your health, your church is not your spiritual life.
  • It is not to be blamed when you think it fails you.
  • It is not to be looked upon to supply physical, emotional or even spiritual needs.
  • The church is a brotherhood made up of people like yourself.
  • The church is where we prove ourselves to God.
  • The church facilitates our walk with God.
  • The church is where we learn about God.
  • The church does not exist for your benefit, although all of us benefit from it.
  • The church exists to receive benefit from each of us.

Eph 4:10-14 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; NKJV

  • How do you keep God at the center of your life?
  • What are you worried about right now?
  • What do you hope happens tomorrow or this week?
  • When did you last express anger, fear, disgust? About what?
  • What was your reaction to the last call to consecration or commitment?
  • When was the last time you fasted? For what?
  • What was the subject of your last prayer request?
  • What if everything would be taken away from you? Where would you turn?
  • When did you last express spiritual love to a brother or sister? Did you mean it?
  • When you can answer these questions with a focus on God, he is at the center.

Phil 3:7-10 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:  10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 

When the whole of Eastern Canada and the United States was plunged into darkness during the massive power outage, Jay Reynolds, the Director of the Walter R. Sheely Planetarium outside Cleveland , Ohio , told the story of what his dark night came to be. This astronomer saw great opportunity in a pitch-black sky. What could have been a long night of fear became instead a serendipitous, joyful celebration, a time for fellowship and for gratitude.

Before sunset, so that all of his neighbors could see what he was doing, Dr. Reynolds set up his telescope in his front yard, inviting everyone to come over and see the marvels of the sky. The deep, deep black of the sky free of artificial light revealed the galaxies in plain view. The whole sky was live. The planet Mars was brilliant and the Perseid meteor shower as well. Jay Reynolds said: “It was a great night to see the stars the way they were meant to be seen.”

I have no doubt that in the darkness of that night, the neighbors of that street in Bay Village, Ohio, rediscovered their grateful center: gratitude for the thoughtfulness and generosity of their neighbor who loved the night sky so very much, gratitude for a Creator who sets the stars in their courses and binds together Orion and the Pleiades, and gratitude for a night in which to see those stars the way they were meant to be seen.

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997, c1985). The fulfilled family. Includes index. Chicago: Moody Press.

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