Summary: Jesus came into the world to make a difference in the world.
Christmas is a celebration of the fact that God took on flesh in Jesus Christ to do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. Jesus was born as a man and lived as a man, living a sinless, pure life. He ended that life by dying on the cross for our sins in our place. Three days later, He was raised back to life, proving sin’s penalty, death, had been completely overcome. He ascended back to heaven, where through His Holy Spirit, He invites everyone, by faith in Him, to enter into a personal relationship with the God of the universe, by having His Spirit enter into our lives, who begins to transform us from the inside out. One day, He’ll return, and when He does, He’ll complete the transformation of all who received Him as their Savior, as He will make everything in this world new.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:16-17
Jesus came to save the world. Jesus came to change the world.
1. Jesus begins this transformation in all who trust in Him.
When I trust Jesus as my personal Savior and Lord, His Spirit comes to dwell within me and God takes hold of me, never to let go of me.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” - John 10:27-29 (NLT)
God has determined that one day, when Christ returns, all who believe on Him will be like Him. Until then, He calls those He has taken hold of to now take hold of His plan to transform us from the inside out. Many think salvation is about God taking hold of us so we might be with Him in heaven one day; but salvation is really about God
taking hold of us to bring heaven to us today. And as we who trust in Christ, seek to live for Christ, He changes the world one heart at a time.
2. Jesus transforms the world through those He is transforming.
When we, who God has taken hold of, take hold of His purpose for us, God changes us. And we . . .
“become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.” - Philippians 2:15-16 (NIV)
What differences has Jesus made in this world through His followers?
1) Women - Jesus elevated the status of women. Before, women labored in harsh, subservient roles, and were often nothing but slaves to men and their families. The philosopher Cicero said women were “slaves, dogs, horses, and donkeys” - things to be used and cast away. But women’s rights today, especially in the past 200 years, were
produced by the Christian faith. Where there is no Christian influence, like Muslim societies, women are still second-class citizens.
2) Children - In the ancient world children were routinely left to die of exposure - particularly if they were the wrong gender (you can guess which was the wrong one); they were often sold into slavery. Jesus’ treatment of and teachings about children led to the forbidding of such practices, and the establishment of such practices as orphanages and adoptions. A Norwegian scholar named Bakke wrote a study of this impact, simply titled: When Children Became People: the Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity.
3) Government - Before applying the Christian faith to government, people lived in perpetual fear of massacres and tyrants. Power and fear ruled human societies for much of human history. But after the coming of Christ, the biblical role of civil government began to emerge through the Magna Carta, British common law, republican governments, democratic principles, and human rights.
These things weren’t the natural march of history - they came about through application of Christ’s teachings. Do you appreciate armies and police that protect us? Do you value the right to vote and elect your representatives? Do you appreciate the relative tranquility of a just social order? All these things, which aren’t enjoyed in nations devoid of Christian influence, are the fruit of faith in Jesus Christ.
4) Education - We’d have lost much of the great literature of the ancients if it wasn’t for Christians who found, copied, and preserved the ancient writings. Did you know the first universities in Paris and London were started by believers? The first 120 American universities, starting with Harvard, were also started by Christians. Most milestones in education flow from one fountain: faith in Jesus Christ.