There was an old television commercial featuring an owl that asked, “How many lick does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?” It was a catchphrase that became part of the national conscience. I distinctly remember getting my Tootsie Roll pop after my dad’s softball game and trying to count how many licks it took until I struck the center. If I had thought about it for any length of time I would hopefully have realized that it was a unimportant question. After all, why does it matter how long it takes to get to the center? Yet I soldiered on, trying to answer the owl’s query.
Perhaps one of the reasons that this commercial hit a cultural note is because we are all fascinated by that which is central. We associate centrality with importance. Looking at our solar system as an example, we know that everything else revolves around the center. Unfortunately, despite this knowledge, most of us tend to think that the solar system actually revolves around us. Our conversation is peppered with personal pronouns as we talk about “I”, “me”, and “my.” Seemingly the greatest tragedies on the planet are those that are effecting our daily lives. When we grumble against God, it’s because things aren’t going according to our plans. Our personal history consumes are dialogue, yet it isn’t our story which is of central importance.
As one author reminds us:
History is to be understood as the patient wrestling of God with a stupid, deluded, and rebellious people—stupid and rebellious precisely because they insist on seeing themselves as the center of the story.
When Satan fell and when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden it was because they wanted to be the most important. They wanted to assume the position that was rightly God’s. And so it is with us. We think that we are the center, when it fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. History isn’t going to be an aggregate of our stories, but it’s going to be about the story that matters – the story of God’s redemptive work.
Because despite our arrogance, God loved us enough to send His Son as a babe to die on the Cross and conquer death, so that those who repent and put their faith in Him may have an eternal relationship with Him. For those that know Him, this is the best part of our story. This is what should be central to our lives.
So when people ask us how we are doing, maybe we should talk less about what’s going on with us, and more about how He is at work. Maybe we shouldn’t focus on the trials of this world, but the triumph we have in Him. May we not have to “look for an opportunity” to share the Gospel because we are constantly talking about the work of the Gospel in our lives. May our focus be on that which is truly central – the story of Jesus Christ.
How do you keep Christ central during the holiday season? How about during the rest of the year?