What If It Was Always Winter And Never Christmas?
(What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?)
Part #1 – December 11 – “A world without Jesus would be a more unjust world”
Brief description of the movie and the other world the children enter into. (Promote movie). When they enter this world called Narnia, it is under a curse; where it is always winter but never Christmas. The story is an analogy of our fallen world and the redemption brought by Jesus Christ.
The concept of “parallel universes” is becoming a fashionable storyline and internet chat room topic. You might remember the FOX network series “Sliders” where the characters move between different worlds like our own but with different histories. There is an internet Newsgroup called “alt.history. what-if.” I visited that site a couple of times as I prepared this series and found that a lot of people are passionate about debating how the world would be different if certain things had happened differently in the past. There seems to be an especially large interest in debating how the world would be different if the South had won the Civil War. But I found that there is a passionate debate on the site regarding how the world would be different if Jesus had never been born. The conversation exists between Christians and non-Christians.
We have seen this “parallel universe” concept in the form of the timeless Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Remember how George Bailey felt when he when back to his hometown after being granted the wish of seeing what life would be like if he had never been born? Just the small town he lived in was unrecognizable, because George was not there to have helped people. If we could see a glimpse of what our world would be like if Jesus had never been born, it would not be recognizable to us either, but in much more devastating ways.
Some people don’t like Christmas, mostly because of the commercialization or because it brings back bad memories of years gone by.
I heard a story of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable. And after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year - Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card. Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot." From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, "Don’t worry, we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.
Don’t forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different the season would be. Christmas would not have to be a frustrating or depressing time but an opportunity for thanksgiving and joy.
Back to the idea of parallel universes. Even small changes in history would have caused major differences. But Jesus’ life and work were no small contributions and did not just have minor effects on humanity.
Jesus is the most influential person in the history of the earth.
- History is marked by His birth – so that the whole world acknowledges His existence and influence. Though how many even know what B.C. and A.D. stand for?
- Virtually every religion acknowledges His moral teachings if not His claims to be the Savior, the Messiah.
A Newsweek magazine poll from December 2004 found that if Jesus had never been born,
63% believe there would be less charity in the world.
61% believe there would be less kindness.
59% believe there would be less personal happiness.
58% believe there would be less tolerance.
47% believe there would be more war.
Jesus has had an enormous impact on every part of life.
What would the world be like if Jesus had never been born? Over the next three weeks, we will examine that question from many angles. Today I want to focus on how Jesus and His church have impacted the world in terms of ethics and social justice.
Some say Jesus is the worst thing that ever happened to this world
Ted Turner, Christianity is just “a crutch for the weak” – “a religion for losers.”
Friederich Nietzsche - the 19th century German philosopher, declared the world would be a much better place had Jesus never been born. “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point.” (The Antichrist, section 16) “God is dead.” (The Gay Science, section 108)
In his book “The Antichrist,” he said, “I condemn Christianity; I bring against the Christian Church the most terrible of all the accusations that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. It is, to me, the greatest of all imaginable corruptions; it seeks to work the ultimate corruption, the worst possible corruption. The Christian Church has left nothing untouched by its depravity; it has turned every value into worthlessness, and every truth into a lie, and every integrity into baseness of soul.”
Voltaire, the French philosopher opposed Christianity throughout his adult life and came to regard it as a major aberration of the human mind, as well as a terrible disaster for the human race. He said, "It took centuries to build up Christianity, but, I’ll show how one Frenchman can destroy it within 50 years."
Video Clip #1 – Scrooge and Marley - “A toast to a world where Jesus had never been born”
Jesus changed the world in terms of Social Justice
1. Literacy, education and tolerance.
I would like to talk at length about how Christianity has influenced more just governments and economics, but I will limit it to this. Where Christianity has been influential in the beginning of a nation and government, human rights have been most protected and enjoyed. And Christianity not only promoted education and literacy but helped achieve the lowest illiteracy rates in history.
Video Clip # 2 – Scrooge and Marley – tolerance for all religions based upon Christian principles
A government that understood its biblical purpose – justice – distributive and retributive breeds social justice. (taking time to evolve but now also eroding because we forsake our Christian heritage and foundation as a nation).
2. The value of human life.
Galatians 6:10 – “Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone, especially to our Christian brothers and sisters.”
Video Clip #3 – “Christianity has made more changes for good than any other entity.”
Prior to Jesus, the ancient world left little trace of any organized charitable efforts. Jesus’ ministry included an emphasis on helping the neediest and lowliest in society. The parable he told of the Good Samaritan has been held up as an example of how charity work should be done. Mother Theresa, the Salvation Army and religious hospitals stand out as examples of the church’s influence to help those in need. And the measure of the local church is incalculable throughout history in this area.
Christians in the first and second centuries not only took care of those in need in the church, but also those who were not Christian; those who Roman society tended to neglect and despise. The Roman Emperor Julian, the last Roman emperor who tried to eliminate Christianity from the empire marveled at how the Christians loved even the pagans, even their enemies. Julian wrote, “For it is disgraceful that, when no Jew ever has to beg and the impious Galileans (Christians) support both their own poor and ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.” It was this kind of Christian kindness that helped win thousands over to Christ.
Jesus ushered in a new priority to help the poor. In fact He equated helping the poor with serving Him directly! Jesus also gave us a new motivation for helping those in need. It was to be done out of love for Christ, because He loved us first.
A recent investigation found that the states that have a record of being most charitable, most generous, are the states that have the most church attending populations. This is no accident. Nine out of the ten most generous states with charities are those with a high proportion of church attenders. Ten out of the bottom ten are those with historically low proportions of church attenders.
B. Women’s rights
Galatians 3:28 – “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians--you are one in Christ Jesus.”
In ancient cultures, a wife was the property of her husband. Aristotle said that a woman was somewhere between a free man and a slave. In India, widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned upon their husband’s funeral pyres. Christian missionaries were a major influence is stopping this practice, and the church has been a force for women’s rights around the world.
The practice of infanticide was very prominent in Roman culture. But it was especially disastrous for women. If a baby was born and it was male, it was most likely treasured, but if it was female, it had a high chance of being exposed – allowed to die from the elements outside the city. In fact, it became a problem for society as men outnumbered women and brides were in short supply for men.
Christians not only spoke out against infanticide, but also rescued exposed babies and raised them as their own. At times, they would raise many of these children together in a group home. This was the invention of the orphanage.
If you think about it, where are women’s rights most suppressed? In Islamic countries. Western culture, which sprung forth from Christian influences, ushered in the acknowledgement of women’s rights. How ironic that feminists today do not give any credit to Christ or Christianity; in fact, they say it has oppressed women. In reality, Christianity has elevated women enormously. Had Jesus never come, Gloria Steinem, had she even survived the womb, would most likely have worn a veil or Burqua as an adult.
While it is true that committed Christians have owned slaves in history, they were also committed to the kind treatment of slaves and to considering them equal partners in salvation. It is also true that slavery was ended in great measure by Christian activists.
Video Clip #4 – Christianity was the death knell for slavery
D. Hospitals – the injured and sick
Video Clip #5 – There is also much kindness in the world . . . Christians started most hospitals.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 – “Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father. Talk to the younger men as you would to your own brothers. 2Treat the older women as you would your mother, and treat the younger women with all purity as your own sisters.”
Ephesians 6:2 – “Honor your father and mother. This is the first of the Ten Commandments that ends with a promise.”
Christians honored the elderly and valued their wisdom in the church.
Luke 17:1-2 – “One day Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There will always be temptations to sin, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting. It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck than to face the punishment in store for harming one of these little ones.’”
Matthew 19:14 – “But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.’”
As I already mentioned, in the ancient world, for example in classical Rome or Greece, infanticide was not only legal, it was applauded. Killing a Roman was murder, but it was commonly held in Rome that killing one’s own child could be an act of beauty. It was the early church that ultimately brought an end to infanticide and brought a reduction in abortions. Christians would even rescue babies who had been put out to die by exposure, and the idea of the orphanage was born.
Abortion was also prolific in the ancient world, but Christians quickly spoke up for the rights of the unborn and recognized that it was an act of murder. A second century letter called “The Letter to Dognetus” says of Christians that “they marry . . . they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.” Through the influence of Christians, the 6th century Emperor Justinian compiled what is known as the Justinian Code. In it, abortion was outlawed for the first time
What about the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. These were times when the “the church” was not following God’s will and Jesus’ example. Don’t make the mistake of drawing conclusions from the exceptions and calling it the rule. The overwhelming evidence is toward the remarkable good the church has done because of Jesus. Mankind tends to focus on the bad news rather than the good news. (E.g. reporting in Iraq focuses on daily bombings, deaths while it ignores improvements in voting rights, human rights, infrastructure, schools and health improvements, etc.)
A 1985 gathering in Dallas did precisely that. It was called "Christianity Challenges the University: An International Conference of Theists and Atheists," sponsored by Dallas Baptist University (DBU), that brought some 40 of the world’s finest scientists, philosophers, and social thinkers together to discuss such issues as the existence of God, the origins of the life, and the relationship of religion to morality.
Perhaps the highlight of the conference was the address given by distinguished British historian Paul Johnson. Johnson, author of the 800-page masterwork Modern Times (Harper, 1983), contends that the unparalleled political atrocities of our century have been perpetrated by those following secular ideologies (like Marxism, Freudianism, or German fascism) that do not place adequate moral or political constraints on the human abuse of power. At the conference Johnson extended this line of thought. Only orthodox Christianity, he maintained, can provide the appropriate moral references necessary to sustain humane society. Johnson’s talk drew one of the largest audiences of the four-day event.
There is no doubt that the world would be different – darker and different – if Jesus, the light of the world had not come as a baby, lived a perfect life, died for our sins on the cross and risen from the dead. But Corrie Ten Boom once wrote something that is pertinent here (Each New Day). She wrote, “If Jesus were born one thousand times in Bethlehem and not in me, then I would still be lost.” Have you let Jesus into your life?