As a youth pastor, one of the most fun and scariest work project we ever accomplished with the youth group was cleaning out a house where two sisters in their 80’s had passed away. The family needed help because the ladies were hoarders. The youth found all kinds of cool old stuff to save and clean up. However, the smell and filth was overwhelming. The family believed that the sisters died buried in their stuff, unable to get food, water or help. The very things they thought would bring them life, buried them.
According to School House Rock, "Victim of Gravity", gravity is that force none of us can escape, and it causes everything from objects to fall if we drop them, to the movement of the planets around the sun. Gravity is something that creates order out of chaos throughout the universe. Literally.
According to Sir Issac Newton, the law of gravity is that “Every particle of matter in the universe attracts every other particle with a force that is directly proportional to the product of the masses of the particles and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.” In other words, the bigger the mass of an object, the more the gravitational pull of that object.
This means that although we depend on gravity for life as we know it, if we take the principle of gravity for granted it can destroy us. Think about hoarders, people whose lives are dramatically affected by their need to collect and keep more and more stuff. Something that is good, when taken to extreems can become something so large that the gravitation pull can crush us.
I know most of us are not hoarders where our stuff crushes us, but many of us experience the same gravitational pull in other areas of our lives. Making commitments to help other people is a great thing. When we start promising to help everyone with everything, all of a sudden the mass of all of those commitments begins to have a gravitational pull that can crush us.
The principle of gravity is at work in the story of the sisters: the more stuff they had, the more they wanted. We may think we would never get to that point, but we struggle with this more than we realize. The greater the amount we have of something, the stronger the gravitational pull, and so the more we want and the greater the risk of collapse. Think about our relationship to comfort, to commitments, to eating, to self-confidence, etc. Some is good, but the more we have, the more we want, and what we thought would give us life, ultimately can crush us.
The relationship we have with our stuff is such a serious issue that Jesus spent more time talking about it than about any other subject.
Read Matthew 16:26. “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?”
Jesus is speaking to the disciples, and is talking about what it means to actually follow him. He reminds the disciples that to be a disciple means to see things from a divine perspective, to realize that what they have or gain on earth is temporary, so they need to be careful about how much worth and value they put on it. This is good for us to hear, as well. So many of us are focused on getting more and more, and don’t realize that doing so might cost us our lives.
Think of a star. A star is a collection of gas that is held together by gravity. If the gravity continues to build as the star grows, eventually the star will explode and then contract, forming a black hole - the gravitational pull of which is so strong that not even light can escape.
Just like a star, as disciples of Jesus, we must recognize our need for balance in order to resist the pull of more and more stuff in our lives. Scientists refer to it as hydrostatic balance. It’s what allows stars to exist in a stable way: the gravitational pull of the star is trying to collapse the star, but the nuclear reactions the star push light, heat, and radiance out from the star at the same time, creating balance.
God helps us to find that Equilibrium. The more we have, the more we need the light of Jesus in us. The more we need to give off light and heat as we allow God’s love to transform our relationships. It is so important to remember that the more I have been blessed with, the more I need to grow my heart and allow God to transform my relationships. It’s easier to see the outward additions of drugs, sex and crime that create black holes that can take away our light, but most of us don’t see the gravity of our stuff creating the pressure of a black hole that can crush our soul.
Science can help us understand how God created things. The basic pull of Gravity, the need for Equilibrium and the darkness of the black hole, all point to the need for us to give off the light and radiance of Christ in our lives.