The Power of Inertia

The Power of Inertia

October 6, 2019
Hebrews 3:7-19 NIV

There will never be agreement about how the dinosaurs died or even how long ago they lived. Paleontologists point to fossils records and suggest that they lived millions of years ago. Young earth theorists say that can’t be possible.

But one thing is clear: they all died. Perhaps it was a cataclysmic event that caused all the dinosaurs to die, like a giant meteor.
Perhaps it was something that caused a change in their food source.

A paleontologist looking for clues about why dinosaurs became extinct might look to Newton’s First Law of Motion called the Law of Inertia to find a clue.

Inertia is not a biological or zoological term. It’s a physics term.

Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in motion, including a change in direction.

An object will stay still or keep moving at the same speed and in a straight line unless some external force acts upon it.

Another way of saying this is that an object will keep doing what it’s doing unless another force causes it to change its speed or direction.

So, as it applies to the dinosaurs, they would still be here had some external force not acted to wipe them out.

Today, I want you to think about the Law of Inertia, or Newton’s First Law of Motion, and how it applies to our spiritual lives.

First of all, we are creatures of habit, and it is easy for us to remain at rest or in the same uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force.

Sometimes that is good.

We are creatures of habit, and there are some habits that we should keep, especially those that please God.

But sometimes, our habits, attitudes, theology, and actions can be our undoing.

By nature, we resist change. As the old-timer says, “We get sot in our ways.”

When I read that inertia comes from the word, “Inert,” which means “not willing to change or happy to remain in the same state for any length of time,” I decided that the perfect name for a Baptist church would be Inert Baptist Church. We all get “sot in our ways.”

Many of us become inert in our faith. We develop our opinions, prejudices, views, attitudes, points of view, beliefs about God, and political opinions, and we are sure that we are right, and everyone else is wrong.

It doesn’t matter if someone shows us how our beliefs or lifestyles may be in conflict with the gospel, the power of our inertia is just too great for us to make a change.

Jesus had problems getting some people to make changes and become his disciples.

One man told Jesus he would follow him wherever he went.

But Jesus told him that he didn’t have any place to lay his head.

Jesus wanted him to see the price involved in following him, and it’s implied that the man rethought his commitment.

Jesus invited another man to follow him, and that man said he had to return and take care of his father until he died. Jesus said that the kingdom had to come before family.

When he invited another man to follow him, he wanted to go home and bid farewell to his family, but Jesus said that once you committed to him, there was no looking back. If you looked back, you would be like a farmer that looked back while you were plowing, and you would end up planting a crooked row.

With each of these people, the power of inertia kept them from making the change to follow Jesus. They were already in motion with their lives. They were headed in one direction, and it was too difficult to stop going that way and go with Jesus. While their reasons didn’t sound unreasonable to us, our reasons never do.

If we are honest, a lot of the times we say “no,” to Jesus, it’s because we have a lot of momentum and commitment to a way of living, and to stop moving that way and change and go with Jesus requires a lot of effort. It’s easier to just keep going in the same direction.

Not long ago I heard about a new member of a church who was asked by long standing members to move out of their seats. She was sitting where they had been sitting for years. The new member didn’t know.

In a microcosm, that’s the power of inertia at work. Those people had been sitting in the same seat for so long that it was too difficult to stop sitting there for the benefit of someone new. It was easier to offend than to change.
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they saw amazing miracles of God through the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the supplying of manna, quail, and water in the desert region.

When they got to the Jordan River, Moses sent twelve spies over, and they brought back a report of what they had seen. They all agreed about what they had seen, but could not agree on whether they should follow God and take the land. Why? It was the Power of Inertia.

Ten spies could not stop making decisions based on fear. They had lived with fear all their lives. They had been slaves under Pharaoh, as were their parents, and their parent’s parents, and so on. Four hundred years of slavery and living with fear, and now Moses was asking them to live on faith.

They could not make that change. The external force of God’s miracles and Moses’ leadership were not enough to convince them. The results? They were lost for 40 years in the wilderness. An entire generation was lost before the power of inertia was broken and gave way to the obedience of God.

Let’s not make that mistake as a congregation. Don’t make that mistake as an individual.
If you need to make a change in your life this morning, don’t allow the power of inertia to keep you from listening and obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Some of you are doing the same thing in your relationships, and you are getting the same results, and the reason is the power of inertia. You refuse to change because that would require you to do something different than what you have always done.

We will remain at rest or in the same uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. The external power we need to act upon us to change us is the Spirit of Jesus.

While the Spirit of Jesus is present here, we can come to church every Sunday and remain unchanged. You can have perfect church attendance and remain unchanged. Just because the Spirit of Jesus is present here doesn’t mean you take Him home with you.

We can come to church and think that because we come to church that our hearts are right with God, while all along, we are just in the same uniform motion with no real desire to grow closer to God.

Churches can become at rest and stuck in a uniform motion, too.

Every year churches become extinct, and it’s usually not because of some cataclysmic event. If you traced the history of churches that die, you would discover key moments in their history where there was a Jordan River that churches refused to cross.

You might as well have changed the name of the church to Inert Baptist, Inert Presbyterian, or Inert Methodist.
Churches can change their methods of delivering the gospel without changing the gospel and still honor the Lord.

We change how we communicate on our phones, do our taxes, drive our automobiles, watch television, cook, exercise, find people to date, teach people in school.

The Power of Inertia has not stopped these changes from occurring. Outside forces have caused us to change.
So why is it that when it comes to sharing Jesus with a lost and dying world, we are so resistant? If making some changes in our methods is good for the Kingdom of God, why would we not be open to them?

I don’t think Jesus would be teaching from a boat at Crow’s lake if he were to physically came to Jefferson. Times change.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” When we follow Jesus, sometimes Jesus takes us places we did not know he was going to take us.

If you say “yes” to following Jesus and you don’t end up going to some places in your spiritual journey you didn’t expect to go or didn’t even want to go, then I question whether you are listening to the Holy Spirit.

Our human nature is much the same as an object in physics. It is to resistant to change. We like to stay still or to keep moving at the same speed and in a straight line. Don’t change my world. Let me stay comfortable.

The reason we need the presence of Jesus is that He is that external force that comes along and says to us, “You need to follow me. I am the way.”

If we are following Jesus, don’t you think Jesus is going to stretch us? Don’t you think Jesus is going to take us to some uncomfortable places?
You might say, “Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of.”

It is true. If you are a follower of Jesus, you need to be open to change. Your arms need to be open to welcoming new people. Your heart needs to soften so that you hold no prejudices. You need to be willing to do some ministry you’ve never done before. You need to sit in some new places. You need to see the church from other perspectives.

Why?

The writer of Hebrews says that if you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, “do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebelling, during your testing in the wilderness.”

This was not just good advice. It was a warning. If we allow the power of inertia to win the day instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, there is a wilderness ahead for us.

If we harden our hearts when the Spirit is moving, we will wander in the wilderness. That’s change, but it’s not good change.

If you think about it, change cannot be stopped. You can slow it down, but eventually, you are overtaken by it, and then you are way behind the times.

Rust is change. Take a metal object that sits still, never moves, and is never used. It will change. It will rust. Eventually, it will become unusable.

When we cease to follow Jesus, and we do not allow Him to bring the changes to our lives and to our church that He desires, the change that will result will be a wilderness and not a land of plenty.

We cannot stop this church or this community from changing any more than we can stop our lives from changing. Jesus is simply asking us to be intentional about change, the kind of change that gives us the best opportunity to grow closer to him and others the best chance to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Our choice is much like those that stood at the Jordan looking over into the Promised Land. Was that land going to be an easy land to occupy?

No, but compared to the wilderness, that land was certainly the easiest and best land for their future.

In our personal lives, when we hear God speaking to us, giving us direction to make changes in our marriage, in our ethics, in our speech, how we manage and our money, how we parent our children, how we live out our faith at school, the choices are much the same. We can keep going in the same direction, or we can allow the Holy Spirit to be that outside force that changes our path.

In the world of technology, there is a new development called Hypersonic Sound (HSS). The inventor, Elwood “Woody” Norris, has engineered sound waves to travel like a laser beam for about 150 yards.

Hypersonic Sound allows sounds to be heard by a person in a particular place but not by those immediately around him/her. You could be listening to music or specific instructions while those standing next to you are left in total silence. If you move out of the tightly formed path of these unique sound waves, you too will be unaware of any noise.

I think God has been using Hypersonic Sound for a long time. This might explain why Jesus heard a voice from heaven when John the Baptist baptized him or why Saul heard a voice from heaven questioning why he was going around persecuting him when those around them may not have heard anything.

I am very sure that God is hypersonic in this way. There are times when we are in the right place and in the right path, and we hear God speak to us, and we are the only one that hears His voice. God may be speaking directly to you right now through His Spirit, and no one else knows what God is saying to you.

Perhaps you have refused to be open to any change in your life or in our church, but now the Holy Spirit might be saying to you, “Soften your heart. Let go of your pride and allow my love to flow through you because others need you. Others need to know that I love them, and I want to use you to let them know that I love them.”

Perhaps you need to let God love you.

Whatever it is that the Lord is saying to you, are you willing to listen? Are you ready to respond? If not, the Power of Inertia will have won the day and not the Power of the Spirit. As God speaks to you now, will you respond to His voice?

Photo Credit: rinashinn.com