1543. The Renaissance was transforming the way people thought about both art and science, and Nicolaus Copernicus published a book called De revolutionibus orbium coelestium. On the revolution of the celestial spheres. Why is this relevant? Copernicus was one of the first humans ever to realise that the whole world didn’t revolve around him.
To the most learned and educated minds in the world, for thousands of years, we were the centre of the universe. Galileo Galillei was called a heretic for furthering Copernicus’s theory and teaching it, but I think he did us a great favour. In his own way he corrected the error that the entire universe revolved around us.
The idea that we’re the centre of the universe is common to the human condition.
It’s a mistake it’s all too easy to make. Even once we’d realised we weren’t the centre of the universe, we still made ourselves the centre of maps, and around the world, time zones are measured from a line that runs around the circumference of the globe as seen from? The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
We can chuckle at the idea that everyone used to think the earth was the centre of the universe, we can laugh at the fact that maps aren’t even nearly accurate, but if we’re honest? The idea that we’re the centre of the universe is common to the human condition.
So maybe we don’t literally think that everything revolves around us any more, but it’s all too easy to let our thinking slip into the world view that everything is all about us.
Today’s culture is full of thoughts that reflect this. Society is preoccupied with self; self image, self esteem, self help, selfies. And if we are not really careful? We can let this thinking slip into our theology and imagine ourselves star players in a universe where God has placed us at the centre.
Everything can become about how it will make us look, how it will make us feel—our fulfilment, our self image, our self-actualisation. It’s good to know who we are, it’s good to be fulfilled, but let’s never forget who is centre stage.
The whole universe, and all of the other universes, and everything within them, are created to echo and reverberate with the glory and beauty of God.
Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
– Psalms 115:1 (NIV)
We are made in His image and the bible is clear that our journey with Christ we are transformed from glory to glory, but that glory is His not ours. We carry a beauty far greater than ourselves.
King David understood this. He was a king who deferred to a greater king, he was a warrior, a hero, a poet, people sung songs about this guy – but he sung songs about God. He knew the name that belonged in lights wasn’t his own.
He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
– Psalms 23:3 (ESV)
David, who God had plucked from provincial obscurity and made into a king, knew that the paths God was leading him in were for the glory of God. For His name’s sake.
When you place your life in God’s hands the possibilities are limitless, but if our thoughts are to our own glory and the promotion of our name then we’ll never see the fullness of what could be.
Everything begins and ends in Jesus. We are created to bring glory to that name.