The Butterfly Effect

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:18-19 (ESV)

The theory goes like this: a butterfly in Indiana is doing what any butterfly does.  He is flapping his wings.  However, the butterfly is doing his fluttering at the precise place and time that the waves he creates move through the air and grow until they become a hurricane over the Atlantic.

Ridiculous, right?  It is hard to look at the destruction left behind by one of these storms and say, “A butterfly did this.”  And yet, there is a kernel of truth in all of this.

It is quite clear that everything we do, everything we say, effects the people around us in some way or another.  We joke, people laugh (or, in my case, they usually moan).  We yell, people respond negatively.

But, that effect goes farther than our immediate audience.  Each person we encounter, every life we touch, is impacted.  Something as seemingly small as a kind word of affirmation can make a change in another.  Think about it.  You can be talking with a co-worker, or friend or family member, who is facing a difficult situation.  You may have just the right words, or actions, and just the right time and place to inspire that individual, giving them new found strength or joy or whatever that person needs.  They, in turn, may do the same for someone else.  And so on and so forth…

Some may call it the Butterfly Effect.  I call it the work of God through His people.

When we follow God’s lead and do as He commands us – that is, to love one another – we unleash the power to impact people, to change lives, to show others that love is the more excellent way.  Love can bring hope to one who sees no hope, warmth to those who feel no warmth.  And, in turn, inspire them to do the same.

What we do, what we say, may seem like small, insignificant acts.  But, whether we realize it or not, with every interaction we are investing in others and making an impact.  We are inspiring – for better or for worse – and affecting those around us.  Making a negative impact is easy.  Look at Adam: he didn’t plot to disobey God and eat the apple.  He fell in a weak moment.  And look at the effect we feel to this day, thousands of years later.

Now look at Jesus: everything He did was measured, purposeful, meaningful.  And look at the impact His love has on us today, some 2000 years later.  Indeed, both brought effects that are eternal: Adam introduced us to death, Jesus offers eternal life!

So, today, consider the impact you may have on the people around you.  Be deliberate in your words and actions.  Love others – even / especially those it is hard to love.  Each of us is influencing the people in our spheres of life.  A small event, forgettable in it’s seeming inconsequence, can cause a major effect.  What impact will you make today?

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