Jesus changes everything, but especially society! Normally, when you hear someone talking about Jesus, they are talking about how Jesus changed their life, their marriage or setting them free from un-forgiveness or bitterness! If you listen to Dave Ramsey, you might even hear the occasional testimony about how walking with Jesus changed a person’s financial future. But you rarely hear pastors or Christians talking about how Jesus changed society.
Take a minute and google “How Jesus changed the world” or “The impact of Christianity”. Read a few of the articles. I think you will be amazed. And fair-minded people will begin to realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been a positive and powerful force transforming society. I know atheists are quick to lump all religions together and point to institutional Christian failures such as the inquisition. But let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember all of the ways that Jesus and his followers changed history, Western Civilization, and transformed society.
Human Rights and the Value of Women and Children
Human rights and the idea that all people are created equal flows out of Genesis 1-2 where the Bible declares that men and women are created in the image of their creator and therefore valuable. The Declaration of Independence declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This statement flows out of a biblical and Christian worldview.
Likewise, women, in ancient cultures were considered property. Contrary to the Greco-Roman culture of the day, the Christian message (Galatians 3:28) elevated women to equal status in Christ. Female children were often thrown out and left to die. The church prohibited its members from this practice. In India, where widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned at their husbands’ funerals, Christian missionaries worked to stop these century old practices.
And what of slavery? While it is historically accurate to note that Christians have owned slaves, it is clear that slavery is a distortion of Christian teaching. While the Apostle Paul did not uproot the social institution of slavery in the Greco-Roman world, he did command Philemon to receive Onesimus as a brother and not his slave. (Philemon 1:8-21). In the 1st Century, early Christian often purchased slaves in the marketplace merely to set them free. Historians credit the British evangelical William Wilberforce as the primary voice behind the abolition of slavery in the West (check out his story by googling “The story of Amazing Grace”).
And what of Cannibalism? It’s easy to forget! When missionaries travelled the world launching into unknown cultures they encountered various unpleasant cultural practices such as Cannibalism or child sacrifice. In Papua New Guinea (near Australia) tribes that encountered the Christian message in the 1950s gave up the practice of cannibalism. When missionaries ventured out to places like Hawaii and Fiji practices such as human sacrifice and widow-strangling ceased as people groups adopted the Christian message.
Compassion and Mercy
The message of Jesus to “love your neighbor” and to be a “good Samaritan” is well known. christians have travelled the world founding churches, hospitals, orphanages, and leper colonies. Just think Mother Teresa and your local soup kitchen or Food Bank. It you trace these organizations back to their beginnings you will discover their Christian roots.
This may shock you! But only one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America was not a Christian institution. If you have some extra time, read the founding statements of universities such as Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. They were founded to promote education and exalt Jesus Christ. We’ve come a long way from these beginnings.
And what of compassion and mercy and work ethic and productivity? Time doesn’t allow me to continue a list of societal transformations which were caused by the teachings of Jesus and Christian thought.
Jesus changes everything, but not how you think! Today, we hear cries for reform and revolution in the political realm. As elections approach in America, once again, people on all sides don’t like their options (even though our democratic popularity contest gave the candidates to us). Socialism and Marxist liberation is again a political craze among the young in the West (although it has crashed and burned every time and everywhere it has been instituted).
So what of Jesus and his plan to change the world? Things haven’t really changed all that much! In John’s gospel, we read how Jesus fed 5,000 people and taught that he was the “bread of life”. The masses were so thrilled with Jesus’ miracle that they forgot about his message and they sought to forcibly make Jesus their King, but Jesus refused the offer (John 6:15).
Jesus’ message was a simple one and it still has the power to transform society. Jesus calls each one of us today to “repent and believe” — to turn from our wayward ways and to follow his ways. You can tear one government down and replace it with another, but things will only get worse if you reject God’s truth and righteousness and refuse to walk in relationship with your creator through His Son, Jesus Christ!
Jesus changes everything, especially society and it starts with you and me. Are you ready to change?