Have you ever seen a picture of dominoes falling? One domino after the other hits the one next to it and hundreds or even thousands of dominoes fall simultaneously. It’s always had a meaning for me. Sadly, not always a good one.
The Bible says, “One sinner destroys much good” ( Ecclesiastes 9:18). We all have influence. “No man lives to himself and no man dies to himself” (Romans 14:7). That’s just the way things are for the vast majority of humanity. That’s why our influence on others is so important. “He that walks with wise men shall be wise. But the companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
Maybe I should look at it more positively. I came to the Lord during the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s. So many were affecting others and it was a wave and movement towards the Lord, like dominoes falling forward, nudging each other towards Him by the thousands and even millions.
But, sadly, I’ve seen it go the other way. Friends and loved ones who’ve been pushed in a time of weakness, confusion or temptation to abandon the ways of the Lord and to give themselves over to the dark side, the ways of the world and the ways of unbelief. It’s heart-breaking, truly.
“The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Psalm 78:9). If you’re a Christian, perhaps you know how it’s heartbreaking to see your friends forsake the paths of light to follow the worldly in the ways of spiritual darkness. Maybe that’s why Solomon said, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Proverbs 1:10). Or Moses wrote in the Law, “You shall not follow a multitude to do evil.” (Exodus 23:2)
That’s how it is. We all have influence. And there are seldom any neutrals. We’re either pulling others up to our level or dragging them down to ours. That’s why Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me and he that gathers not with Me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). It’s just that simple and that real, even though many would say it’s not.
We all have influence. We are all looking at each other. We are all making decisions. Will I buck the tide and stand up for what I know to be true, even if I have to do it alone and without my friends? That’s very, very tough for almost everyone.
Of course that’s what Jesus Himself did. “All forsook Him and fled.” (Mark 14:50) Even His 12 disciples, even the ones He taught and loved the most turned away from Him at His darkest hours. It seems it was the same for Paul. “All they that be in Asia have turned away from me”, he wrote in his final epistle. (II Timothy 1:15)
So, dominoes. Influence. Being dragged down by folks you want to be friends with. Or standing against the flow and the tide when it’s going the wrong way.
I’m thankful I was brought up by parents who taught me that even if we were in a minority in those days because we didn’t hate African Americans, it was still the right thing to do and that hatred and prejudice were very wrong. I was taught to stand up for my beliefs, even if I was alone, even before I became a Christian.
One person, walking in love, walking in truth, walking in the light of God can have an incredible impact. Like I wrote in the article “Is There Not a Cause?”, that’s how the future king of Israel was when he was still virtually a child. David’s dauntless answer to his brothers’ taunts has always ringed so loud to me, “Is there not a cause?” (I Samuel 17:29)
Would to God that today there would be more who would stand their ground, look the darkened mob in the face and cheerfully stand up for the Lord and His ways.