Centrifugal force does not exist.
The force we call centrifugal force – the force working on an object orbiting a center point, which pushes it away from the center – does not actually exist. The actual force that causes an orbiting object to want to pull away and fly out of orbit is the inertia of the orbiting object. A moving object wants to move in a straight line, and it takes a force holding it or pulling it inward to keep the moving object in orbit. Gravity pulling on a planet is an example of this. Without the inward pull of gravity the planet would travel in a straight line out into space.
Gravity is an example of centripetal force. It is the inward pulling force working on the orbiting object and keeping it from letting go, and taking off in that straight line – off to wherever it’s inertia is pointing.
These forces are helpful concepts when we consider living in a Christocentric worldview. Our natural tendencies are like inertia. We inherently want to do what we want do. We want to go our own direction. The will of God is far too often in opposition to what we want. Thus, it is not that we desire to go directly against the will of God, we simply desire to go our own way, and like a planet falling out of orbit, we move farther away from the sun, and consequently, we move further away from the “Goldilocks Zone”, where conditions for our spiritual life are “just right.”
Of course, any illustration breaks down at some point, and this one is being used to simply point out that our own way is not necessarily the same thing as the mythical centrifugal force – it is not the same thing as direct opposition to the will God. Instead it is something far subtler, and potentially more dangerous to our spiritual life than that. Rather than moving directly away from the center, we tend to move in an inertia, which: 1) feels like freedom to go our own way, and therefore carries a sense of self-fulfillment that feels like prophetic momentum. And, 2) the movement away is subtle at first, and unnoticeable to us.
This illustration helps us to see that the Christocentric worldview will not always look like an all or nothing approach to life. Like the orbit of a planet, inertia is required for the planet to remain in the Life Zone. Yet, our desire for the will of God, which is illustrated in this example by gravity, holds our own will in orbit. Thus, we find the fulfillment of our spirituality is a combination of our desires with will of God holding those desires in the “Goldilocks Zone.” God wants to work with us, and with our desires. Of course, this needs a caveat. Desiring to kill someone is not going to be something in the parameters of God’s will. But, the fact is, that there is no person living, who does not carry deeply held desires God would like to bless and help fulfill.
Understanding this about ourselves is a key to understanding the liberty we have in Christ. Understanding this about others helps us understand how to not to be stupid in our communication about God – not everything is a God vs. devil scenario. Most people are just trying to get along in a work-a-day world, and are hoping some of their dreams will come true.
This simple illustration from physics helps make sense out of one of Solomon’s proverbs.
“Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3)
Notice the backwards nature of this passage: he does not say that we should commit our thoughts to God in order to discover what work we should be doing. Although that is the typical approach we have to understanding the will of God. Instead it suggests that we commit our work – our dreams – our plans to God, then he will direct the details of our thoughts on moving forward in that work. Otherwise, God wants to work with your dreams, and should you commit those dreams to God, your thoughts will be directed to help you stay in the “Goldilocks Zone” where things are just right.