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Sunday
Dec132015

Merry Christmas! How Jesus Changed the World - Part 1

This week we celebrate the world's most important birthday--the birth of Jesus Christ. Three-quarters of our global population took time to honor this event in some way with music, church services, giving of presents, or family gatherings (the only major exception being the Muslim nations). 

The world would be vastly different if Jesus never came. 

How different?  Let's do some deeper thinking about the impact of the life of Jesus Christ. You've heard of the twelve days of Christmas? Let's look at twelve ways Jesus Christ changed the world over the past two thousand years.

I'm not limiting Jesus' impact to only a dozen areas. I welcome your thoughts as to other areas his life has wonderfully touched.

Today we'll begin with the first six.

Individuals  - "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).

The essence of Jesus' mission was to save the individual lives of every person who chooses to put their trust in him. He didn't just point the way to a set of ideals or moral principles as many other teachers did. Rather, he promised when we were "born again by his Spirit" he would come to live inside of us, guiding and empowering people to live meaningful and godly lives.  

At the age of fifteen I put my trust in Christ to forgive my sins and come into my life. He did. From the very beginning I experienced his presence, power, guidance, correction, and empowering which changed everything in my world. I was no longer "wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24)--but was set "free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2).

There was a new dynamite--dynamic--power--to live a productive life.  Over the past two thousand years, it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ in millions, and now billions of people, that has altered the landscape of history through changing individual lives.

Women - "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

No one altered the role of women is society more than the teachings of Christ. Prior to New Testament times, women labored in harsh, subservient roles, often nothing more than slaves to men and their families. Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton point out in their liberating book Why Not Women? that the Greek philosopher Cicero likened women to "slaves, dogs, horses, and donkeys"--all possessions to be used and cast away.

Jesus' teachings and example elevated women to equal worth in God's sight and complimentary roles in the marriage relationship. ALL of the women's rights we enjoy, especially in the past two hundred years, were produced by the Christian faith. Even in Muslim societies today, women are second-class citizens.

Not in the Christian West where women have all the same rights as anyone else. If you're a woman, living in a Western nation, you can thank Jesus Christ for the freedoms you enjoy.

Family Life - "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord..."Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church..." "Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right" (Ephesians 5:22, 25, 6:1).

The application of Jesus' teachings also gave permanent strength and completeness to the world's most important institution--the family. Wives were not slaves, husbands weren't to be tyrants, and children possessed significance.

The Christian truths of submission, equal worth, partnership, equality, and self-sacrificing love gave harmony and protection to family relationships that over hundreds of years became the foundation of Western civilization and culture.

Are you thankful for the habits and practices of Christian families today? They were inspired by Jesus Christ.

The Church - "I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

Though the Church has not always properly applied the teachings of Christ, it is also true that no group of people have made a more positive impact on the history of the world than the Christian Church.

The "Church"--the "called out ones" (Greek = ekklesia)-- transformed the Roman Empire, rescued "learning" from the destruction of the Middle Ages, raised Europe out of barbarism, pioneered the New World, and sent Christian civilization to the ends of the earth.

History would be unrecognizable today without the acts of God's people in every century. Without the compassion, evangelism, humanitarian, and social justice works of the Church in scores of nations, the lives of millions today would be without hope.

Civil Government - "The authorities that exist are appointed by God...he is God's minister to you for good...an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:4).

One of the things we both criticize and take for granted in the 21st century is the positive role of human governments that were shaped by Christianity. Prior to the Christian faith being applied to civil government, people lived in perpetual fear of massacres and tyrants. Your town could be here one day and be burned to the ground the next. You could be alive one day and dead the next. Power and fear ruled human societies for much of human history.

But after the coming of Christ, the biblical role of civil government began to emerge through the Magna Charta, British common law, republican governments, democratic principles, and human rights. These things weren't just the evolutionary march of history--they were incremental applications of Christ's teachings to human governments.

Do you appreciate armies and police that protect us? Do you value the right to vote and elect your representatives? Do you appreciate the relative tranquility of a just social order? All of these things--which are not enjoyed in many non-Christian nations in the world--are the fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.

Education- "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

Did you know that we would have lost  the great literature of Greece and Rome (and all of the ancient world) if it weren't for the Christian monks who preserved that knowledge through finding, preserving, and copying all the ancient writings during the Middle Ages? Are you aware that the first universities in Paris and London were started by believers who had a thirst for knowledge and wisdom? 

Did you know that the printing of the Gutenberg Bible was considered by TIME magazine the most important event of the past five hundred years because it made truth and knowledge easily available to the masses? Have you heard that the first one hundred and twenty universities in America, beginning with Harvard, were started by followers of Christ for the advancement of the Christian faith? 

Most of the major milestones in human education flow from one fountain: faith in Jesus Christ.

Worship Him this Christmas.  His birth--then death and resurrection--are the most life-changing events this planet has ever encountered.

O come let us adore Him!

Next Week: How Jesus Changed the World - Part 2

 

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