I have been reading The Brothers Karamazov, and was struck by a sentence. Ivan, the atheist brother, is talking with Alyosha, the hero of the story who is a monk. He says, “The centripetal force on our planet is still fearfullly strong, Alyosha.” He is speaking in the context of his love for life despite “logic” which tells him there is no order to the universe. It is after this discourse that Ivan launches into the two most famous chapters of the book, “Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor,” where he argues against God.
In my mind, one of the main jobs of the preacher is to counter-act the “centripetal force of this planet” by proclaiming a Jesus that has a stronger pull. If people don’t see a Jesus that has a greater pull on their wants, their desires, their souls, then the force of this world will ultimately draw them into the center. As I drove in to the office this morning my longing was to see Jesus more clearly, to delve into his words and actions and better understand him. I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and wrestle with both the tough and the tender, to see how his turns of a phrase, how his quotations of the OT and how his insight speaks clearly to me in a world of iPhones and skyscrapers and high gas prices. I want the gravitational pull of the son to overcome the centripetal force of this world!