We thought the following article titled “How Christianity Changed the World” was an excellent summary of what we have been saying. It was printed in Citizen Magazine, November 2018, page 30. We are sharing it here by permission:
Do you sometimes think our culture is at the crossroads, tipping toward the gates of Hell? If so, you’re not the first to wonder if the Church will make a difference in a pagan culture.
Jesus began building His Church in a dark and depraved world that devalued life and denigrated marriage. The Greco-Roman culture of that day was brutish and violent; mercy, pity, and compassion were viewed with contempt.
Into this environment, early believers brought a message of God’s deep love for people. Empowered and transformed by the Holy Spirit, they modeled a gospel of grace and compassion. Along the way, they transformed the world.
Be encouraged that what our generation faces today is not new. The Church has been here before, and it prevailed. Here are some key ways the Church made a difference:
Christianity taught and demonstrated the dignity and sanctity of human life. The gladiator “games” vividly depict the Romans’ callous disregard for human life. Crowds of bloodthirsty spectators watched as slaves, prisoners, and criminals fought to the death or were torn apart by wild animals. Christians were vocal in their opposition to these horrific spectacles and encouraged believers not to attend. After hundreds of years, as Christian influence grew, the games were finally shut down. Christians also displayed their value for life in positive ways, helping the sick and needy, eventually building hospitals, hospices, institutions for the blind and homes for the elderly.
The early church advocated for children. Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were common in the ancient world. The early Church carried the biblical belief that children are made in God’s image and are a gift from Him. Jesus’ followers fought to protect life with their teaching and their actions. They practiced their faith by rescuing abandoned children, providing care and adopting them into families.
Christians proclaimed God’s good design for sexuality and marriage. In the folklore of the time, pagan gods and goddesses engaged in art kinds of sexual immorality. Not surprisingly, their worshipers followed their example. The Church rejected this decadent ethic and elevated the importance of sexuality and marriage. Scripture taught that God ordained marriage and that it was a picture of Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church. Men were called to sacrificially love their wives and wives were to respect their husbands.
Christianity also elevated the status of women. In a world where many wives were treated almost like slaves, the early Church included women in leadership. Women played a vital role in supporting the ministry of Jesus and the apostles. The Church grew as women were drawn to a faith where they were valued and respected.
The world is immeasurably different thanks to centuries of Christians living out their faith. Their example should be an inspiration to us today as we lift up the values of human life and God’s design for marriage.
As we end this year and look forward with hope to a new one, we want to thank Citizen Magazine for allowing us to share these thoughts about how Christianity changed the world. We would add to this essay the fact that skeptics like to point to the errors of organized religion in the past. Those errors occurred because humans did things the Bible didn’t endorse or command. The broader picture shows a hugely positive action in Christianity when Christians have followed God’s teaching and Christ’s example.
–John N. Clayton © 2018