It’s a Small World

Have you ever met a perfect stranger and after a bit of conversation find out that you have a mutual acquaintance? Or, maybe in the conversation you find out that someone you know knows someone they know.

Psychologist Stanley Pilgrim did a study on such coincidental meetings. He selected two groups of people at random. He gave people in the first group a letter to be sent to one of the people in the second group. The second group was chosen at random from people all across the country. The instructions were that the first group were to mail the letter to someone they knew that had the greatest chance of knowing the target individual. The first group didn’t know the actual addresses. That person was to follow the same instructions until the letter reached its destination — the target individual in the second group. How many such mailings do you think it would take to reach the target? It only took from 2 to 10 with 5 being the common number.

John Allen Paulos in his book, Innumeracy, suggests that there is a 1 in 100 chance when we meet a stranger that we will have a common acquaintance. But there is a 99 in 100 chance that we will be linked to one another by a chain of only two intermediates.

It’s a small world. We are linked to one another more closing that we may realized. We need to remember the teaching of Jesus:

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:46–48, ESV)

May we show kindness to all we meet. May we demonstrate the love of the Father in all aspects of our life.

Who knows what may come of a chance encounter, we may find connections we never expected. But more importantly, we may be that person’s connection to hearing about Jesus.

Let us not be afraid to share our faith. After all, it is a small world.

— Russ Holden

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