Captain Obvious and the Laws of Thermodynamics
2 Corinthians 9:6 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Years ago, I met a patient who was convinced that he had bent the laws of physics. Overweight by a couple hundred pounds, he insisted that he did not eat anything. He swore that he had gone days without eating, only to gain weight. Knowing the first law of thermodynamics, I did not believe that he could create mass out of nothing, so we set out to find where he was putting energy in. As it turns out, though he was not eating anything, he was drinking thousands of calories a day. We had our answer and the laws of the universe remained in effect.
Though it seemed apparent to me, it took some convincing that there was not something magical about him, allowing him to create matter out of nothing. This frustrated me. It is so obvious. How can you not understand?
We are what we eat (or drink) and we get out of a thing, that which we put into it. This is the universal principle that Paul insisted on in today’s passage. Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. If we eat more calories than we consume, we gain weight. If we lift weights, we will get stronger. When we seek God, we find him. If we seek him little, we will know him little. Thank-you Captain Obvious.
This principle however, is often lost on Christians, who live by grace. We are taught, correctly, that because of Jesus’ death on the cross, that we are forgiven for all time. The strings connecting our sin from its eternal consequences, have been severed.
This is true, in my eternal, spiritual life. I often think however, that this is true in my temporary, flesh life. I have lived as though grace meant that I was free from the consequences of my actions here and now. I walked a thousand miles in one direction and then begged God to magically transport me in the other.
I have pursued donuts and then ask that God make me prefer broccoli. I have pursued the desires of my flesh all the way to loss of job and family and then begged to God deliver me from the consequences. I thought that faith was just an intellectual acceptance of God, so grace meant that I could live however I wanted. Because I was forgiven, I did not need to worry about consequences, right?
I think Paul would have looked at me like I looked at that patient with his supersized milkshake in hand. Accepting Christ does not mean you can circumnavigate the laws with which God made the universe. If you pursue yourself, you will find you with all your destruction. If you pursue God, you will find him.
If I rob a bank today and then accept Christ tonight, I may be forgiven by God, but I am still going to prison tomorrow. Likewise, I may claim faith, but if I do not daily deny self and follow Christ, I am not living the life of a disciple. If I do not pursue God, I will not know him. When I pursue self, I will come to know the destruction of me. I may be forgiven for all eternity, but I still live this life within the confines of the laws of God.