"That's not how the world is supposed to look at all!"
That's what I nearly shouted when I first saw that image on TV many years ago. The popular Japanese cartoon's intro theme had panned out from a Tokyo house, to gradually show the surrounding city, area, country, and then the entire globe...with Japan squarely at the center! My home continent was nowhere in sight.
Doesn't every cartographer know that North America should be around the center? Maps just look balanced that way! Google "world map" images and you'll see that the USA is always center left, while Japan is at the far periphery. But wait! Google "world map" in Japanese (世界図) and a whole new set of "strange" images comes up. Japan is at the center. All continents are at the periphery.
East or West, it seems that wherever you call home, that becomes center of all things for you. The Chinese name for their country literally means "middle kingdom." This name emerged from Chinese philosophy that believed China to be in the center of the earth. Not to be outdone, the Japanese name for their country literally means "origin of the sun." In 607, Prince Shotoko of Japan began a letter to China with the less than politically-correct greeting: "From the sovereign of the land of the rising sun to the sovereign of the land of the setting sun." Diplomatic relations may have yet to recover.
Let's face it. This me-at-the-center-of-things thinking has permeated human history since Adam and Eve. And it's made a real mess the world over. Some call it ethnocentrism. Others call it national or ethnic pride. Still others call it geo-politics or socio-economics. But when this thinking takes over, the Bible calls it sin. Because such thinking takes glory away from the True Center.
"At the center, Christ rules the church." Eph 1:20 MSG
God sees the world differently. Man is not at the center. Nations and kingdoms are not at the center. Christ is at the center. And his kingdom is at the center. He is the absolute middle by which we are to look at our world. What results is this:
"Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ." Eph 3:11 MSG
God does not divide up the world along geographic, cultural, socio-economic, or racial lines. He sees people only in relation to himself and his Son, Jesus. His children are either found or still lost. They are a part of his Son's kingdom or still outside of it. It's that simple.
Looking at the world with God's eyes will drive mission work. When we humbly realize that none of us was or is at the true center, our task becomes clear. We must reach out to people on the spiritual periphery, wherever they are found, and point them toward the true center, Christ.
So how do you see the world?