Our Ripple Effect


Gutenberg Bible  (1)The first major book printed using moveable type was the Gutenberg Bible. Its publication marked the start of  a stunning wave of literacy and launched the age of the printed book in the West.  However it also had ripple effects that I never knew.

Stephen Johnson, author of How We Got to Now, says the coming of literacy forced people to realize that they were farsighted! They needed spectacles to read books!  So began a wave of research and inventions on the lens. As that expertise developed, telescopes and microscopes were invented which led to the blooming of biology and astronomy.

Johnson further explains how the invention of refrigeration, recorded sound, purified water, clocks, and artificial light set off chain reactions of seemingly totally unrelated ideas (like moveable type and spectacles) and changed the world forever. (Johnson will host a PBS series on these ideas beginning on Oct. 15 at 9 PM and continuing on Oct.22-Nov. 12.)

As I thought over the reality of ripple effects, it occurred to me that this is the phenomenon that Jesus had in mind when he said, “Follow me” –  and “createripple effect 2d” disciples. Every life committed to following Jesus leaves rippling effects in its wake. Every day that starts with someone saying, “Lord, put someone in my path today so I can be Jesus to him or her” creates ripple effects as amazing as any scientific revolution. Every conversation or blog entry or act of service or sermon has a multiplier effect that would astonish us.  Paul never dreamed that his letters to fledgling churches would be teaching and mentoring people in 2014!

I recently watched a TED talk by an EMT who has served with an ambulance crew for many years.  He evaded answering the question “Am I dying?” for years. But one day he decided to tell the truth. He was amazed when the dying man’s eyes reflected peace and acceptance, not the fear and turmoil he had expected.  Since then he has told that truth dozens of times.  He says that dying people have made three comments to him:

  • “I wish I had spent more time with my children.”
  • “I wish I had not wasted so much time.”
  •  “I wonder if anyone will remember me.”

That last question about leaving a legacy is one that Christ-followers will never have to worry about.  Our legacies are being written everyday we live as apprentices of Christ.

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