Last week, I wrote about this year’s Ig Nobel Prize for literature. The Ig Nobel, a humorous take on the more noteworthy Nobel Prize, “honors” achievements that cause us to laugh but also cause us to think. For example, this year’s psychology prize went to a small group of researchers who wanted to see how many people on a city street looked up when they saw total strangers looking up.
There are some things that might keep me up at night. A late night burrito? Certainly. How many people look up when I look up? Nope. I fall right asleep, thank you.
Stanley Milgram, one of these researchers is also famous for his research into “six degrees of separation.” This research set out to prove how small our world is by showing that all people are only six or fewer social connections away from one another. His work led to the popular game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” But I digress.
Let’s get back to the crowd on the street. From the sixth floor of an office building, a group of volunteers would be signaled to look up. They would look up for one minute and then disperse. That’s it. Not bad work if you can get it. Sometimes it would be one designated person looking up; at other times, it might be two, three, four, even up to fifteen people. They repeated this multiple times. They found that the number of participants looking up was a key factor in leading random pedestrians to also look up.
- If just one person was looking up, a mere four percent of strangers would stop and also look up.
- If fifteen people were looking up, that number jumped to forty percent.
- If just one person looked up without stopping, forty-two percent of strangers would also look up.
- If fifteen people looked up without stopping, the number of strangers looking up jumped to eighty-six percent.
You’re probably wondering as I am what we’re supposed to do with this information. In my reading, I’ve found no underlying motivation for this research—except for the fame and fortune that comes with winning a dubious Ig Nobel Prize. But I don’t want you to leave disappointed, so here’s what this research teaches me:
People notice what captures our attention. So, I have to ask myself: what am I regularly looking at? If my focus is on Jesus, I’m drawing attention to Him. When I look to Jesus, I can lead others to look to Him. Through my words and actions—my focus on Christ—I have the potential for others to consider why Jesus is so worthy of my attention. If I can get them looking at Jesus, I hope they will also be drawn to focus on Him—and commit their lives to focusing on Him.
“As for me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).
When Jesus spoke these words, He was speaking about His work on the cross. I think it also has application for how we live our lives. We die our own death, dying to ourselves (Luke 9:23), and we lift up Jesus instead. That lifestyle draws people to Him.
Look up to Jesus.
But wait! There’s more! Notice in the research that when the number of designated volunteers looking up increased, so did the percentage who joined them in looking up. Consider the implications for a body of believers, a local church.
Since God can do incredible things through an individual fully devoted to Christ, imagine what He would do when a whole group of believers began living lives pointing to Jesus. Consider how God worked in the early church.
“Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).
Be that follower of Christ who is constantly looking up to Jesus. And let’s be that church.
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Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about What Causes You to Look Up?.