Part of the battle that I have fought and I see a lot of other genuine Christ followers fall into is this idea of salvation as only a one moment in time event. What I mean by this is that we fully accept that salvation is by faith, so the door to God is opened by our faith, but the process of being saved, or sanctification to use a multi-syllable word, is a process that we have to gut out by our own self effort.
This has caused me to really ponder and dwell on the idea of our openness to God that I’ve brought up in a couple previous posts. A realization that faith in God as the potter is fully necessary for the entire process of salvation. Faith doesn’t just open the door so that we can do the heavy lifting, faith is what is necessary to allow God to do the lifting, shaping and forming of our lives in Christ.
It is in this context that the words of Christ came to mind, when referring to what comes out of our mouths, that it is a product of the overflow of the heart. That is where an image from Archimedes comes in.
Now, much of this is a recollection from History of Science class 20 years ago, and if I were publishing this I’d put some time into fact checking, but since the story sounds good, I’ll go with it here. Archimedes was charged with determining if a crown made for the kings was actually gold or a clever mixture of metals made to look like gold. Stumped, Archimedes decided to take a bath (who says real men don’t take bathes) and noticed the level of the water change when he got in. That was inspiration and a naked Archimedes jumped from the bath and ran naked down the street to his lab. Archimedes’ Principle ready to be birthed. I guess he did not want press his luck that he’d forget the new idea while dressing.
Anyway, digested as much as I can for you, part of the principle says this: if an object sinks, then the volume of water displaced is equal to the volume of the object. For example, if you have a glass water full to the brim, and you drop your set of keys in the glass, then the volume of water now on the table is the same as the volume of your keys. Further, when you pull the keys out of the glass, the level will drop accordingly.
Now, maybe none of the rest of this will make much sense, but I’ll give it a whirl. This seems a lot like our hearts to me.
The way we are designed, our hearts are to be open to God, providing space for Him to fill. Openness is trust, faith and dependence. Like a cup of water that is held under a running faucet, out of the open heart will flow, naturally and authentically, the life of the Spirit. Works and words. No masks. Genuineness. The life of love. This is the ideal.
If not open to God, our hearts will be open to something. Our problem begins when we focus on or get hung up on other things that close us or direct us away from God. We let our hearts become dependent upon other things to feel the overflow. Take sex.
God given, God designed sex definitely should be delighted in. It produces intimacy and pleasure and impacts our very soul. But when sex is what we look to in order to feel valued, when our identity has been twisted together with sex in some way whether who, how often, how much, or whatever. In this case, we are using something to placate our pride or fear or envy or insecurity. We fill our hearts to feel the overflow. That is when the Archimedes Principle kicks in.
When you drop your keys into a glass of water to measure the overflow. When you take them out, there will be an emptiness. In order to get overflow from the glass again (without replacing the water), you much drop a larger object into the glass. This must happen every time, for each iteration. It takes a larger object to get overflow. More and more is required.
Same for the heart. If sex (or money or vacations or whatever) is producing the overflow you are depending on for your joy, then you will sooner or later have to fill up with more, bigger, wilder, younger, bolder and more and more. It will take more to produce a lesser effect. You will be a slave.
Even worse, is when the object of your delight is taken away. As the keys are taken out of the full glass of water, watch the level go down. When what we are defining ourselves with, when that thing that we are dependent on for our joy is taken away, we experience emptiness. An empty heart is a dangerous heart, for we’ll always seek to fill it up with something.
What Archimedes of the heart cannot explain is how God fills our hearts. How we will overflow. How we will get out so much more than we put in. In fact, our part is trust and reliance, God has promised everything else. The expression ‘you get out of it what you put into it‘ may be true of every other object of our heart, but not God. With Him, in the form of His grace and mercy, we get and get and get and…
That is His love for us in Christ and we never have to fear being empty.