aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

my July newsletter column

The Wordsmith's Forge

Archimedes is reputed to have said, "Give me a lever long enough, and I will move the earth." I heard this saying in high school Physics class, when we were studying the power of levers.

The actual quote though, is somewhat different. In discussing what levers can do, Archimedes said, "Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth" (dos moi pou stw kai kinw thn ghn). Yes, a long enough lever is what he was discussing, but that's not all there is to it: leverage only works if one has a stable platform external to the thing to be moved.

The misquotation is significant. Ours is a world obsessed with leverage. Everybody thinks that if he or she just had a long enough something, then everything one could want could be achieved. So most problems are viewed as things that can be solved by personal clout, the sources of which include:
political power;
military might;
fanatical loyalty.
You can observe all these kinds of leverage on the evening news. But somewhere to stand is equally important to moving the earth. In fact, the people who make the biggest impact on our society may not be people with a lot of personal clout. But they know what they want, and what they're willing to do to get it. They know who they are, and they know whose they are. Because they are standing on firm ground, they make a bigger impact on the world we live in than those whose feet kick in the air while they merely dangle from their huge levers. Those folks make a big spectacle, but they don't accomplish much.

We Christians know what we want (or should). We know what we are willing to do to get it (or should). We know who we are, and more importantly, whose we are. We are in Christ, and through him we have access to the King of the Universe. When Christ said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me," he was claiming to have a big enough lever to accomplish anything that needed doing. So long as we are in him, we need not worry about our personal clout; his will be sufficient, so long as we are standing in the right place.

As the old song puts it,
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

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