A traditional yet somewhat overused plot device for science fiction, the concept of traveling through time is nevertheless a hallmark of the genre. Most writers will agree that this concept was first brought forth by H.G. Wells’ novel from 1894, “The Time Machine,” much to the public’s astonishment. Perhaps due to the sub-genre having a linear and simplistic nature of writing, time travel stories are so numerous that they seem to become really stale before they ever hit the shelves of bookstores. This situation usually presents writers with an uphill challenge to craft innovative time travel stories that capture the imaginations of our readers by simply thinking outside the box. One such series is the NBC science fiction late 1980s show “Quantum Leap.”
While working on quantum mechanics testing for a series of experiments for developing warp drive, Dr. Samuel Beckett (played by Scott Bakula) gets ensnared within the realms of the 4th dimension: Time. Finding himself, quite literally, filling in someone else’s shoes by taking on the physical appearance and the very identity of the numerous people throughout the past of Earth. With his suave and wise-cracking lab assistance manning the controls of the lab computer (dubbed Ziggy), Al helps Sam navigate his new identity, but it is up to Sam to discover the mission for the new timeline that he finds himself in. Within just the first season, Sam dons the mantles of an U.S. Air Force test pilot in 1959, to a mafia hitman in 1963, only to end up as an elderly black chauffeur in rural Alabama on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement in 1955.
Within each assignment, Sam finds himself learning and growing as a person by not only looking through the perspective of others in different eras and lifestyles vastly different from his own. In addition, he learns that it is most often the minuscule we do for other people that make the most significant positive change for both the assignment and the course of history. This is referred to as the butterfly effect within the realms of physics and history. The Cambridge Dictionary defines this theory as “a situation in which an action or change that doesn’t seem important has a very large effect, especially in other places, or around the world.”
Many times more often than not, we interact with individuals and groups, yet never once consider the impact we leave on those we encounter. It can hopefully be positive, encouraging, and an example of witnessing Christ. Sadly, we sometimes don’t have total control over life’s situations. What separates Christians who passionately pursue Jesus and “lukewarm” Christians is the acknowledgment that we can control our reactions to our situations emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Even if we have the most terrible days, we must stand firm against the malice, the rage, and the toxicity and remember that we are only here temporarily, for we are citizens of heaven.
The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once famously said, “Be kind. For everyone is fighting a battle, you know nothing about.” This message is echoed in the word of God. Firstly, the Bible says in Hebrews 13:1-2:
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels and never knew it.”Hebrews 13:1-2 (New International Version | NIV)
Another prime example of this is in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth in the gospel of Matthew 5:13-15:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how can it become salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under the bed. Instead, they put it on a stand and it gives light throughout the whole house.”Matthew 5:13-15 (New International Version | NIV)
Just as Dr. Samuel Beckett travels through the 4th dimension of time, leaping from life to life, we must, as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, be mindful of how we treat each other and how, through our interactions, we can show Jesus to the least of us.