Perhaps you’ve heard one of those talks on the immensity of the universe. I heard one recently by Lou Giglio. Kind of over-the-top but I got the point. I also have even given this kind of illustration in a sermon or two myself. So prepare yourself. When I was kid looking up at a summer night sky, I occasionally saw very clearly the galaxy our solar system calls home. So I knew early on that the Milky Way was more than a candy bar. That bright crowded pathway of stars is a wonder to behold.
The distance from the sun to the outer edges of the known solar system is about four billion miles. The nearest star beyond our solar system is more than four light years away.
A light year is the distance light travels in one year. Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. In one minute light travels more than 11 million miles; nearly 700 million miles in one hour; more than 16 billion miles in a 24 hour day; and in one year light travels nearly 6 trillion miles (5,865,696,000,000 miles). Travel this distance x4 and you could almost reach the nearest star beyond our solar system. This star and our sun account for only two of more than a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.
A journey across our Milky Way Galaxy would consume a hundred thousand light years. In our "local" neighborhood of nearby galaxies, which includes thirty other galaxies, the closest one to us is hundreds of thousands of light years away. The farthest galaxies in our "local” neighborhood are millions of light years away. These are the ones nearest to us.
There are millions of galaxies in the universe. There are galaxies and quasars billions of light years away from planet earth. Such dimensions of time and space evade human appreciation. They are simply beyond us. And all this takes into consideration only the observable, detectable universe. There are invisible, spiritual dimensions of which we have little or no evidence beyond biblical revelation.
Here is the most awesome part of all. This speck of cosmic dust in the universe that we call Earth is very valuable to the Creator of the vast universe. We are not located in the center of a pre-Copernican geocentric universe where the planets, the sun and other stars revolve around the earth. But the second person of the Trinity became incarnate here, lived here, died here and rose from the dead here for the salvation of this planet's human inhabitants. The creator of this immense universe became the tiniest of human form in order to save and draw to himself a people who love him. As far as we know there is nothing else like this in the entire immense universe. If my speculation is correct, then we inhabitants of planet earth are blessed above all other creatures in the universe. So while we do not live in a geocentric universe we do live on a planet that is the unique object of God's love and redemption, a center of salvation. This kind of center is more important than any sort of geo-center. But our importance as a new people of God is not from within and of ourselves. This is given to us in the form of divine grace through God’s beloved Son, Creator of the universe.