Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What do you leave behind?

With my schedule and two small children, I don’t get to watch a lot of television. As a result, I only have a few shows that I truly enjoy. I’ll watch football most any time, I like Deal or No Deal, and I love CSI.

CSI is one of the top rated shows on television. With sister shows like CSI Miami, Las Vegas, and New York, it may live forever in syndication when the new episodes are long gone. The show is all about investigators who use science to solve crimes. It focuses on the evidence found at the crime scene. One of the ideas you gather from the show is that there is always evidence left behind. They may be able to deduce where the perpetrator lives based on a soil sample from dirt left behind from his shoe.

As modern as this may seem, it is not a new concept. In 1910, Frenchman Edmund Locard founded a small police laboratory in Lyons, France, dedicated to forensic science. Locard was the first to put forward the theory that a criminal almost always leaves behind a physical clue at the scene of a crime­: a fiber, a fingerprint, a bullet, all of which are vital pointers to the criminal's identity. Locard was the Sherlock Holmes of France. Locard founded a theory that is the foundation for CSI today. Locard’s Exchange Principle states “with contact between two items, there will be an exchange.” In other words, you always leave something and take something whenever you encounter any setting.

This is true of people also. This is generally thought of as an impression. I knew a woman in Greenville, SC who was a wonderful person. She was helpful, fun, and enjoyable to be around. She also had bad breath. I don’t mean she just needed to brush, I mean all the Crest and Listerine you could find wouldn’t help. So as a result, I tried to avoid any conversation with her that required me being closer than 10 feet away.

So what do you leave behind? Each time you encounter someone, you leave an impression. I was talking with someone who was thinking of joining our church about a year or more ago. This person said they knew some of our members, but also said that some of them had left a bad impression because of their foul language. I’m sure whomever the person was speaking of had no idea that his choice of colorful language would one day have an effect on someone who might be attending church here, but it did. That was the impression left behind.

Jonah was running from God. He did not want to preach to the people of Nineveh even though God instructed him to do just that. He thought God should wipe them from the planet, so he chartered a boat and headed for another country. It didn’t take long for the crew of the ship to realize something was wrong. A storm arose, and was just before killing them all, when Jonah finally admitted to running from God. He told them to throw him overboard and they would be safe. When they did, the seas and winds calmed.

Here’s the point. Jonah 1:16 says, “At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.” Jonah had unwittingly left a witness behind. They realized the power of God when they saw the results of Jonah’s reluctance to follow Him. From this they were all saved.

So what do you leave behind? Do you leave Christ and His love with those you meet day to day or is that reserved for Sunday morning? Do you leave the forgiveness and mercy that Jesus has shown you to others or is that only given to those who forgive you? Let Christ show through in your life and you will never leave a bad impression.

You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 The Message)

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