May the Fourth be with you! The ‘force’ in Star Wars is a psycho-kinetic gift exercised for good by Jedis and evil by those on the dark side. I want to talk about force today and explore the differences between force, momentum, and inertia. These are three laws of motion Isaac Newton observed:
- A body in motion remains in motion, at a constant speed and in a straight line, unless an external force acts on it. (Inertia)
- Force is equal to the mass of a body multiplied acceleration. (F = m*a)
- To every force there is an equal and opposite force. (Action-reaction)
Force accelerates an object. If there’s acceleration, there is a force behind it. Anything that changes your speed is driven by a force. Sometimes a force is applied to us but we don’t move because an equal force in the opposite direction opposes that first force. Gravity holds us to the ground because the ground pushes back up on us. In fact, every force has an equal and opposite force. When you punch a wall, the wall literally punches back at your fist and that’s why it hurts. The forces of nature may cause landslides or tsunamis and the force of gravity makes roller coasters fun, but what is the force of God in our lives and what effect does it have on us?
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience…” – Ephesians 2:1-2
God made us alive. We were dead spiritually, then God brought us to life. We were going along in our lives, following the pattern of the world, under the influence of Satan. This is the law of inertia at work spiritually. God acted and changed our direction. He changed our path from the ‘course of this world’ to a path of righteousness. A spiritual force was required to change our direction because a body in motion remains in motion until an external force acts on it. We do not change direction unless a force acts on us. Whenever direction changes, there is acceleration. And acceleration is brought about by a force. The devil opposes our new life and attempts to pull us back to the dark side, quite literally. In the supernatural, and salvation is supernatural, the force of God is met with an opposite force, though not equal (thank God). If we repent and believe Jesus died for our sins, He will buffet the oppositional force of Satan and put us on a new course. This is salvation. While on this new course, we gain momentum whenever we trust and follow Jesus. We do not live in a vacuum where inertia will allow us to move in the same direction unopposed. Satan will continually try to derail us and impede our motion along the new path of righteousness. We need momentum! Momentum is sanctification. Like a football team driving down field making one good play after another, we too can gain yardage if we yield to the Spirit. Physicists describe momentum as quantity of motion and we all know it’s harder to stop a freight train than a feather. More momentum makes things harder to stop. It’s not so hard for Satan to stop a luke-warm believer preoccupied with the things of this world, but he can’t stop a believer fully submitted to the Spirit.
In the Christian life, inertia is spiritual stagnation. It’s what kept us walking according to the course of this world prior to salvation and it can blunt the effectiveness of your Christian walk after salvation. The very word inertia comes from the Latin word for ‘lazy’. The friction of everyday life will slow you down until you come to a complete stop without the propelling force of the Spirit building the momentum of our sanctification. With momentum comes assurance of salvation and a deeply abiding walk with Jesus. May the Fourth be with you!