December 25, 2012

Positivity: What If Christmas Never Happened? D. James Kennedy’s Classic Essay

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 9:00 am

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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This post is a BizzyBlog Christmas tradition.

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What If Christmas Never Happened?
by D. James Kennedy (1930-2007)

“I want to live again! I want to live again!” George Bailey cried as he stood on a snow-covered iron bridge, the dark swirling river below. With help from Angel Second Class Clarence Oddbody, George had just discovered, to his horror, what life would be like had he never been born.

Anyone who has watched the Christmas film classic It’s a Wonderful Life knows Bedford Falls had become Pottersville. Its main street a red-light district with loud music and garish, flesh-peddling neon signs — a transformation from Currier and Ives to Sodom and Gomorrah. All because George had never been born.

One person can make an enormous difference in the lives of others — in a community or an entire culture. But what if Jesus had never been born? What difference would it have made in history or in our daily lives if a Bethlehem stable had not served as a makeshift delivery room (over 2,000) years ago?

A great deal.

Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, has changed virtually every aspect of human life — and most people don’t know it. The greatest tragedy of the Christmas holiday each year is not so much its commercialization, but its trivialization. People have forgotten Him to whom they owe so very much.

Much of what we take for granted finds its roots in Christ and His teachings. And yet Christianity is ridiculed as an impediment to progress, a bane, and remains today the one safe target of contempt and prejudice.

And while the church has strayed badly at times from Christ’s teaching — for example, during the Crusades, the Inquisition and the blight of anti-Semitism — the overwhelming impact of Christ on earth has been for good. Consider Christ’s profound influence in five areas: respect for life, the status of women, the family, science and education.

Women and children

In classical Rome or Greece, it was dangerous to conceive a baby. Abortion was rampant and abandonment of infants commonplace. Infirm or unwanted babies were often taken out into the forest or the mountainside and left to be consumed by wild animals or to starve or for others to pick them up for their own perverted ends.

Then Jesus came. He did not disdain His conception in a virgin’s womb but humbled himself to be found in fashion as a baby. Since that time, and because of Jesus’ care for the poor and the infirm, Christians have cherished life as sacred, even the life of the unborn. In ancient Rome, Christians saved many abandoned babies and brought them up in the faith. Other believers started foundling homes, orphanages and nurseries. These new practices, based on this higher view of life, created a foundation for Western civilization’s ethic of human life — although it is under severe attack.

Women, too, have immensely benefited from Christ’s influence. In ancient cultures, the wife was the property of her husband. In India, China, Rome and Greece, men believed that women were not able or competent to be independent.

Prior to Christian influences in India, widows were voluntarily or involuntarily burned on their husbands’ funeral pyres. And female infanticide was common. These centuries-old practices ended in the early 19th century through missionary intervention with the British authorities.

Charles Spurgeon told of a Hindu woman who said to a missionary: “Surely your Bible was written by a woman.”

“Why?”

“Because it says so many kind things for women. Our pundits never refer to us but in reproach.”

Family and science

…. As Christians grew in number, they introduced family values to a world riddled with sexual immorality. In A.D. 125, Aristides, an Athenian philosopher, wrote a defense of the Christian faith to Emperor Hadrian. Regarding sexual matters he said:

They do not commit adultery or immorality. . . . Their wives, O king, are as pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from all unlawful sexual contact and from impurity, in the hopes of recompense that is to come in another world.

Christianity has helped preserve the family as the basic unit of society. It has protected millions of people from sexually transmitted diseases.

Science, too, is a consequence of Christianity. Our gadget-filled, comfortable existence would not be possible except for Christ. The late Francis Schaeffer points out in his book How Then Should We Live? that both Alfred North Whitehead and American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer stressed that modern science was born out of the Christian worldview. Whitehead, a mathematician and philosopher, said that Christianity gave birth to science because of “the medieval insistence on the rationality of God.”

Some of the greatest pioneers of science were Christians. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) coined the phrase “thinking God’s thoughts after Him” for his study of nature. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) not only made innovations in mathematics and probability science and helped pave the way for the computer, but was also a devout Christian. And Isaac Newton (1642-1727), though sometimes classified as a Unitarian, professed to believe in Christ and in the message of salvation. “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets,” he wrote, “could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.”

Education, the root

Finally, education for the masses has its origin in Christianity. The roots of education for the masses go back to the Reformation — especially to John Calvin. The Reformers believed that the only way the Protestant Reformation would hold would be if lay people could read the Bible for themselves. Christ himself encouraged learning. He was an avid student as a young boy and teacher as an adult.

The greatest universities were started by Christians for Christian purposes. Indeed, most of the first 123 colleges and universities in the United States have Christian origins. Engraved in stone by the entrance of Harvard are these words:

After God had carried us safe to New England and wee had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear’d convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civill government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.

Had Jesus never been born, man would yet remain in the darkness of sin and ignorance. The message of Jesus brought transformation and incalculable benefits to our temporal existence. He is, indeed, the Light of the World.

But as wonderful as Christ’s profound impact on this world is, it is His transforming power in the lives of countless individuals down through time that is far greater still. The benefits of the Christian faith are far outweighed by the wonder of what He has done in providing eternal salvation to all who, by grace, place their faith in Him. Truly, Jesus Christ is a Savior to be celebrated in both time and eternity.

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