His coming changed the world

Published 10:22 pm Friday, December 16, 2016

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

As we approach the celebration of Christ’s birth, it would be good to reflect on the difference Christianity has made in the world.

Obviously the biggest difference is that God has provided a Savior for sinners (like all of us) in need of salvation. The Bible tells us that Christ is the difference between heaven and hell.

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What many people do not appreciate is the difference Christianity has made for all people, even those who deny God’s existence. Here are a few of them:

  • Medical care: When one reads the four gospels, it is obvious that Jesus showed extraordinary care and tenderness for those who were hurting. He was known as a healer.

The influence of Christianity led to modern hospitals and the incredible advances in medical care. In fact, many hospitals all over the world still bear the name of Jesus or groups of His followers.

His example still inspires legions of doctors and nurses to devote their lives to healing and wellness.

  • Human rights: The gospels are filled with the compassion of Jesus toward the hurting and the outcast. The early church was birthed in a first-century world in which slavery was still rampant.

But the influence of Christianity would eventually lead to the abolition of slavery, as well as the championing of freedom for human beings around the world.

When one considers those who are fighting against things like abortion, human trafficking and religious persecution today, Christians are right at the forefront.

  • Education: In the ancient Greco-Roman world, education was reserved for the elite. It was the influence of Christianity that changed that. The fight against illiteracy and the availability of schools was due in large measure to the influence of Christianity.

Many schools and colleges still bear the name of Christ, and many schools that no longer promote a Christian worldview were started by Christians whose vision for education grew directly out of their faith.

This is the case with Oxford, Cambridge, and the Ivy League schools in America.

  • Women and children: In the ancient world of paganism, women were considered to be inferior, and unwanted children were routinely abandoned.

But Jesus treated women with a dignity and respect that was unheard of in His day. Likewise, he treated children with a tenderness and affection that was not at all common.

Women were the last at the cross and the first to visit His empty tomb. The resurrected Christ appeared to women first.

The way women are treated in Western cultures today springs directly from the influence of Christianity.

  • Humility and forgiveness: These virtues were not considered to be virtues at all in the ancient, pagan world. Power and dominance were the virtues, not self-sacrificing humility and forgiving others.

It was Christianity that changed this.

Genuine Christians understand that they have been on the receiving end of undeserved mercy and grace. Therefore, who are we to receive God’s forgiveness for our sins, while withholding it from others?

As for humility, it was Jesus who said, “The greatest among you is the one who serves.” It was Jesus who wrapped a towel around his waist and washed the feet of His disciples. And it was Jesus who laid down his life for them, and for us.

His coming changed the world.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.