In his book, How Christianity Changed the World, Alvin J. Schmidt stated, “No other religion, philosophy, teaching, nation, movement, or whatsoever, has so changed the world for the better as Christianity has done”. The ultimate value of Christianity is its ability and power to save the world from sin. Christianity provides the pathway to eternal life for all those who obey. However, there are a number of secondary ways that Christianity has influenced our everyday lives for the better over the past 2000 years. To better understand the value of Christianity and its influence on society, one needs only to go to the early Christian age to compare.
In the early days of Christianity, the world was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Rome imposed their pagan culture on the nations they conquered, including the Jewish nation of Israel from which the early Christians came. The Romans had little moral values with no respect for human life with widespread pagan practice of infanticide – killing of newborn infants, usually soon after birth, especially if it was a female. Women were treated as chattel or property of men, having no rights of her own.
Christians opposed this pagan culture and refused to worship or contribute to pagan gods. They soon became despised by the Romans and were persecuted severely. Many even suffered very inhumane deaths. But Christianity persevered and survived.
The evil Roman Empire eventually fell. Many historians attribute its fall to a decline in morality and the widespread practice of homosexuality.
Twenty centuries of Christianity has improved our world in so many ways. It established a new and higher moral standard for a civilized society. Christ’s teachings have enhanced the value of human life, celebrated women’s role to a higher standard, re-established the sanctity of marriage, one man – one woman (Matthew 19: 4-6), and respect for family and children (Colossians 3:18-21). Christianity offers freedom and equality to all. men.
It was through the influence of Christianity that Missionaries, in their efforts to spread the gospel, have established hospitals, orphanages, and educational facilities in many parts of the world. Many of the hospitals still bear the names of Christians such as Saint John; Saint Luke and others. The oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, Harvard College (now University) was established in 1636 by Christian men for the training of clergy for the new world. Early efforts to abolish slavery in our country was initiated by men of Christian convictions. NOTE: The words: Christian and Christianity in this article is used in their broadest sense to include all who believe in Jesus as the son of God.
Our own nation was founded on Christian principles by those who possessed high moral values, a love of God and respect for human life. Christianity is the foundation that made this country great. Sadly, that is changing. Today Christianity is under attack. There are those who wish to build a society on a platform of “No God”, “Same Sex Marriages” and “Abortion on Demand”. It is evident that our country is in moral decline and shifting backward to a more paganized culture.
What should Christians do to reverse this trend? We must continue to teach it, because Christianity is a taught religion. We must follow the example set by the early Christians. Oppose that which is wrong. Be the light of the community. Stand firm in our convictions even if not popular, or even if it leads to our own persecution.
In the book of Hebrews, we find that many of the early Jewish Christians were in danger of returning to Judaism because of persecution. Throughout the epistle, the author stresses the superiority of Christ and His New Covenant over the Old Law, posing the question, why give up something superior for that which is inferior? Today, with all the good that Christianity has done for the betterment of mankind, aside from eternal life, why would one want to give up that culture and return to the culture of ancient paganism?
We have a choice to either serve the God of Heaven or the many gods of the world. Joshua gave the Children of Israel this same choice. He went on to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
By: Jerry L. Jacques