Five: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ …40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” –Matthew 25:35-36, 40

Before Jesus was born, the world was a very brutal and dangerous place to live. Human life wasn’t of much value. In the ancient world, people thought nothing of being entertained by gladiatorial combat where participants were stabbed, crucified, burned and mauled to death. In Rome, unwanted babies were left every morning in the local trash dumps. It was Christians who ultimately ended the infanticide and the barbaric entertainment of killing for sport. We often take it for granted that the majority of the civilized world seeks to follow “The Golden Rule”, “so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 7:12)”, which came from Jesus’ own words. Slavery had existed since time memorial, but Christian nations are unique in the history of the world, for Christians fought and even died to end the barbaric institution. Here in America, two-thirds of the members of the Abolition Society that fought to end slavery were Christian pastors. Also, who can forget the work of the famous Christian, William Wilberforce, to end slavery in England.

Christianity also brought equality for women. One of the worst examples comes from India’s suttee practice of widow burning. When a husband died, their young wife (sometimes as young as their teens), was made to die on his funeral pyre. Christian missionaries fought to make it illegal and won in the 1830’s. In the ancient world and up till the 1900’s, cannibalism was practiced in various parts of the globe. When Christian missionaries brought Christ to the pagans, they also brought an end to the inhumane practice of cannibalism. During WWII, a U.S. serviceman was out on patrol on a remote Pacific island. When he saw an islander carrying a Bible, he said to the native, “Where I come from, we don’t believe in that book anymore.” The islander grinned and responded, “Well it’s a good thing for you that we do. Otherwise, you would be in here by now,” as he patted his stomach! The idea that every human being is equally valuable is uniquely Christian and comes from Jesus. Unfortunately, Christians have not always lived out this principle perfectly, but since Jesus and His followers have tread the earth it has been a more humane world.

In Jesus’ teachings, the Good Samaritan who helps the poor stranger is esteemed in the Kingdom of God. It is Jesus who taught us to care for the widow and orphan, the poor and the sick.  It is the love of Jesus that motivated Mother Teresa to care for the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, India. It is the love of Jesus that motivates Christians to help rebuild for hurricane victims in Haiti, New Orleans, New Jersey, and around the globe. It is the love of Jesus that motivates Christian churches in the inner cities to provide food and shelter to the homeless. The greatest humanitarian movements our world has seen such as the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Lutheran World Relief, Catholic Charities and many more are not founded by atheists! Isn’t God good! And though how imperfect we are as Jesus’ followers, God’s goodness, His light of hope and His abundant mercy continues to shine through, touching and transforming lives for Christ!

God Bless,

Pastor Joel