Some people have made transformational changes in human learning or in one aspect of human life, and their names are forever enshrined in the annals of human history. But Jesus Christ, the greatest man who ever lived, changed virtually every aspect of human life—and most people don’t know it.
The greatest tragedy of the Christmas holiday each year is not so much its commercialization (gross as that is), but its trivialization. How tragic it is that people have forgotten Him to whom they owe so very much.
Jesus says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new,” (Behold! [idou in Greek]: “Note well,” “look closely,” “examine carefully.”) Everything that Jesus Christ touched, He utterly transformed. He touched time when He was born into this world: He had a birthday and that birthday utterly altered the way we measure time.
Someone has said He turned aside the river of ages out of its course and lifted the centuries off their hinges. Now, the whole world counts time as B.C., Before Christ, and A.D. Unfortunately, in most cases, our illiterate generation today doesn’t even know that A.D. means anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord.”
It’s ironic that the most vitriolic atheist when writing a letter to a friend must acknowledge Christ when he dates that letter. The atheistic Soviet Union was forced in its constitution to acknowledge that it came into existence in 1917, in the “year of the Lord.” When you see rows of books at the library, every one of them—even if it contains anti-Christian diatribes—has a reference to Jesus Christ because of the date.
Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), which is tiny in and of itself, but, when fully grown, it provides shade and a resting place for many birds. Christianity’s roots were small and humble—an itinerant rabbi preached and did miracles for three and a half years around the countryside of subjugated Israel. And today there are more than 2.3 billion professing believers in Him found throughout most of the nations on Earth!
Despite its humble origins, the church has made more changes for the good than any other movement of force in history. Here are only a few examples over the centuries:
- Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages.
- Education and literacy. In fact, most of the world’s greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes.
- Representative government.
- Development of modern science (e.g., Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle).
- Abolition of slavery in antiquity and in modern times.
- Elevation of women.
- High regard for human life.
- Higher standards of justice.
- Civil liberties.
- Greater development of visual art and music.
Wonderful as these contributions were for the human condition, none compares to the countless souls saved by the power of the Gospel.
Whatever Jesus touched or did transformed that aspect of human life. Many people will read about the innumerable small incidents in the life of Christ while never dreaming that those casually mentioned “little” things happened in order to transform the history of humankind.
Jesus Christ’s influence on the world has been immeasurable—greater than anybody else in history. But not everyone has been happy that Christ was born. The atheist philosopher Frederich Nietzsche and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler held both Christ and His followers in contempt.
Interestingly, people living under Nazi oppression, under Stalin’s terror, under Mao’s cultural revolution, and the reign of the Khmer Rouge were all spared “the 2,000-year sickness of Christendom,” as the enemies of the church have claimed. Stalin and Mao tried to destroy Christianity and slaughtered tens of millions of professing Christians, but utterly failed in their ultimate objective.
Had Jesus not been born, those billions of people who have testified to His transforming grace in their lives would instead have remained awash in their own vices and faced the consequences of their sins. But the fact is Jesus did come, and we can know Him personally and be transformed by His love.
Jesus Christ is still working in this world through the transformation of the human heart. Once we know Him as our personal Lord and Savior, our “thank you” to Him for His gift of salvation will be to serve Him in every area of our lives. Good works will naturally flow from our lives, as good apples grow naturally on a good tree. ©1994 D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe
This article is adapted with permission from the book What If Jesus Had Never Been Born, by D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, first published in 1994 and revised in 2001. Kennedy (1930–2007) served 47 years as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Coral Gables, Florida, and was the originator of “Evangelism Explosion,” which has been used to train millions globally to share their Christian faith. Jerry Newcombe is executive director of the Providence Forum, part of D. James Kennedy Ministries.
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