Sermon Details

The Butterfly Effect

July 3, 2022
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church in Crawfordsville, IN, invites you to join us as we worship in this time of SARS-CoV-2. Today's Sunday service will be led by Pastor John Van Nuys. The sermon title is "The Butterfly Effect" . Hymns accompanied by Alan White. Thank you for joining us remotely.
(1) Naaman, the military commander of the king of Aram, was famous for his many victories, but he had leprosy. (2) Now an Aramean raiding party had taken a young Hebrew girl captive. She served Naaman’s wife. (3) She said to her mistress, “Elisha can cure Naaman.” (4) So Naaman told his king what the girl had said. (5) The king replied, “Go. I will send a letter to Israel’s king.” Naaman went, taking with him many treasures. (6) The letter read, “Naaman is coming so that you may cure him.” (7) When Israel’s kind read this, he tore his clothes, saying, “Am I God, capable of curing leprosy? Aram’s king is trying to pick a quarrel with me.” (8) But when the prophet Elisha head this, he said to Israel’s king, “Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

(9) So Naaman came with his chariots to Elisha’s house. (10) Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and you will be cured.” (11) But Naaman became enraged, saying: “I thought Elisha would see me and call on the name of his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! (12) Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them, and be cured?” He turned away fuming. (13) But his servants said, “If Elisha had commanded you to do something difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? Do this easy thing that he says.” (14) So Naaman washed in the Jordan seven times; and his flesh was restored like flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.
– 2nd Kings 5:1-14

Funny how “little” people make a big difference: In this passage, a Hebrew girl influenced international events by leading Naaman to Elisha to be healed. This slave girl shouldn’t have mattered, but she did.

In the news, a young American woman shook the world by courageously telling what she saw on January 6. Her testimony may lead to criminal charges against our former President. This 25-year-old White House staffer shouldn’t have mattered, but she does.

Funny how “little” people make a big difference: A common carpenter changed the world by faithfully living, healing, and preaching in a backwater of an empire. Born a nobody. Crucified as a criminal. This peasant shouldn’t have mattered, but he does. His sacrificial life reconciles us to God and his Easter rising assures us that his way of love, justice, and peace shall prevail.

Which brings us to you. None of us are important in the eyes of the world. None of us is Wall Street rich, Hollywood handsome, or 5th Avenue fashionable. We don’t matter in the halls of power. Your obituary won’t be headline news.

But you are important in the eyes of God. You are infinitely loved. You matter and you have power. The Holy Spirit gives you power to serve and love as you follow Christ. Who cares about making headlines? Your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Who cares about being remembered for being important after you’re dead when you’re going to be resurrected because you are eternally loved right now? What’s important is how we choose to live for Christ today.

The famous preacher Fred Craddock rightly said: “Most of us this week will not christen a ship, write a book, end a war, appoint a cabinet, dine with a queen, convert a nation, or be burned at the stake. More likely the week will present no more than a chance to give a cup of water, write a note, visit a nursing home, vote for a county commissioner, teach a Sunday school class, share a meal, read a child a story, go to choir practice, and feed the neighbor’s cat. Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much.”

Focus on being faithful and leave the results to God. As we incarnate Christ’s humble way of mercy, forgiveness, and peace, God integrates the good we do into the greater good God is doing for the world.

The butterfly effect is the name for the truth that small actions have enormous consequences. A butterfly flapping its wings sets off a chain of effects that ripple affecting weather around the world. So, too, your everyday, “little” actions have Kingdom consequences.

You matter. What you do as you follow Christ changes the world. So, keep at it. You don’t have to be Super-Christian. You don’t have to be Pope Francis, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Billy Graham, and Bono all rolled into one. Just be you – and become who God created you to be: Fully alive in love. Just do that. You don’t have to be perfect. None of us are. So, not if, but when you mess up, just ask God to forgive you. God always will. Then ask God to help you begin again and do better. God certainly will.

Funny how “little” people make a big difference. You do. Christ is with you. Let your light shine.

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!