When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. – Acts 4:13 (NIV)
Do you know that Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant fictional detective of old London, had a profound impact on forensic science that is still with us today? And do you know that his influence is instructive to a life of Christian discipleship and friendship?
It’s an interesting story.
In last week’s message on friendship, there was a bevy of material I omitted due to time constraints. One of them concerned Locard’s principle. Dr. Edmond Locard, who was called “the Sherlock Holmes of France,” was profoundly affected by the Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Old police work relied heavily on eye-witness accounts. Holmes solved murder mysteries by using his keen sense of analytical thought. Locard developed a principle that is still with us today: Every contact leaves a trace. In other words, in every contact between humans, there is an exchange. And that means every criminal leaves a trace of his presence. One forensic expert put it like this:
Wherever he steps, whatever he touches, whatever he leaves, even unconsciously, will serve as a silent witness against him. Not only his fingerprints or his footprints, but his hair, the fibers from his clothes, the glass he breaks … the paint he scratches, the blood … he deposits or collects … This is evidence that does not forget.
I recently saw an excellent TEDx talk in which John Sutherland, an officer in London’s police department, explained this principle and how it applies to all human relationships. Here is what he said:
Every time two people come into contact with one another an exchange takes place. Whether between lifelong friends or passing strangers; we encourage, we ignore, we hold out a hand, or we withdraw it. We walk towards or we walk away. We bless or we curse… And every single contact leaves a trace. The way that we treat and regard one another matters. It really matters.
Last Sunday we were challenged to become trustworthy and loyal friends of Jesus and of each other. Every contact we have with others leaves a trace. What kind of trace are we leaving? A trace of trust, or a trace of skepticism? A trace of encouragement or discouragement? A trace of hope or despair? A trace of joy or sorrow? A trace of faith or a trace of doubt?
What kind of trace do we leave behind with every contact we make with another person or group? Do we leave a trace of the Savior? There should be no mystery to our testimony.
P.S. We’ve all seen the many news reports of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area. The country is coming together to help the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and possessions. There were heart-warming stories of heroic rescue efforts, but also heart-wrenching stories of devastation and loss. The government has promised aid, but of course more help is needed. Our region of like-minded churches, Growing Healthy Churches, is taking an offering through their One Great Hour of Sharing program. I’m happy to report that 100% of your special offering will go to help flood victims, with zero taken out for administrative costs. If you would like to give an extra offering this Sunday, please earmark your check, online giving, or offering envelope “Houston.” Thank you for considering this national need.