Sunday, March 7, 2010

A little bit of physics

You may have learned about kinetic and potential energy in high school. Basically, potential energy is energy waiting to be released - sort of the possibility of something happening, while kinetic energy is the energy of motion. The classic example I remember is that of a book sitting on a table. While it is just sitting there, it possesses potential energy. When the book is knocked off the table, the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy by its falling, as well as into other kinds of energy.

I thought about these kinds of energy this morning in meeting when someone talked about "looking for 'that of God' in others". I wonder if what people are looking for is more "kinetic that-of-God" - some sign of God's activity in a person, some spark of goodness to latch on to. I think we should worry more about the "potential that-of-God", the ability within every one of us to commune with God, to be transformed into the image of Christ, and to do what God asks of us.

Where we might unleash a book's kinetic energy by knocking it off a table, we can help to unleash a person's kinetic that-of-God by answering that of God within them, not by just looking for it. When our speech and actions are Spirit-led, when we aren't guided our ego, our fears, our desire to control things, we can reach the potential that-of-God in another person so that they might come to be guided by that same Spirit.

As I look around my living room, it is mostly still (the cats must be napping). Yet, there is potential energy everywhere. As we look at the world, and have trouble seeing the good amidst the greed, hatred, and suffering, we should remember the potential that-of-God in everyone, and that we are called to answer it.


  1. Mark,

    In working with teenagers I often can feel that potential energy right there but can't find a way to "knock the book off the table." I suppose I get stuck by approaching it in the wrong way--by trying to figure it out. The right way is to just be there and be alert for the prompting from God that gives words in the moment. I find that sometimes I wait for weeks for the moment of inspiration to strike and the right words to be given to me at exactly the right time. It can be tough to wait.

  2. Sounds like another metaphor for the Seed! As a recovering physics major, I like it.

  3. Cat, it is a help to me as well.

    Richard, I am often the same way. I agree that it is important that the words come from God. I also think there are probably entire categories of energy devoted to teens.

    Chris, yes, another metaphor for the seed - at least we don't have to memorize any formulas.

    Liz, it feels to me like the kind of eldership you are talking about is more of a steering of something that is already in motion. I was thinking more along the lines of what George Fox wrote: "My dear friends, be valiant for God's truth upon the earth, and live in the light, and power, and spirit of God, that you answer that of God in all, by which their minds may be turned to God." I think that turning is the knocking the book off the table.

    With love,