Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Much is made of the legal decisions and subsequent challenges made by pro-life and pro-choice forces, which amuses and perplexes many who live outside the U.S. Across much of Europe, protest and counter-protest over abortion is almost unheard of, the same being true in many other countries with left-leaning governments and liberal mind-sets. (The “debate” over the legal rights of same-sex unions or marriage is virtually non-existent as well.) These issues being almost exclusively contested in countries still heavily influenced by a strong church heritage and Christian world-view.
I have some reservations concerning the ability of state or federal legislatures to mandate morality; while I recognize the frustration many feel over the lack of progress during the last several years in “encouraging” it. However, some inroads are being made by dedicated Christians to ending the attraction of sin in whatever form it might take, similar to other accomplishments often overlooked that the Christian church has had a hand in over the centuries; recognition of which might help us stay firm in our convictions and desire to redeem God’s world and its people. For the church has had a liberating and stabilizing influence throughout the world for which it can take pride even as it expresses remorse for its mistakes. Yet that’s no more than we might expect since its business is to lead others to the Christ of the Gospels, encouraging them to then pattern their lives on his words and actions. One might very well expect an institution founded on such to be profound and all-encompassing.
W.E. H. Lecky writes, “The character of Jesus has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence that it may be truly said, that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and than all the exhortations of moralists.”1While James J. Drummey notes, “Jesus Christ,… has had a greater impact on human history than any person who ever lived. Though he died at the age of 33, the year in which we live is dated from his birth. Though he lived in an obscure corner of the former Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago, more than one billion people today call themselves followers of Christ. Though he never wrote a book, tens of thousands of books have been written about his life and teachings.”2
As his designated representatives to the world, the church – made up of many “Ambassadors” for Christ throughout the world – was the first to teach the unique Judeo/Christian concept of the value of each and every individual (Whosoever will may come – John 3:16), that message encompassing our personal worth in Christ and our purpose in this world as well as reward in the next. ( Titus 2:14) It has steadfastly, however imperfectly at times, taught the intrinsic value of human life in whatever stage or form it might presently be in – as akin to God ( Genesis 1:26,27), joined to him in design and purpose. ( 1 Corinthians 3:16)
Here are just a few ways the church of Jesus Christ has impacted the secular world for the betterment of humankind.
*Heightened regard for human life, stopping the common practice of exposing handicapped or unwanted infants to the elements and the abandonment of the elderly; setting up orphanages and hospices for those in need.
*Elevated the status and enhanced the possibilities for “common” men, helping to create and promote the middle class which sustains nations while ministering to all.
*Improved the outlook for women by teaching the necessity of mutual submission of men and women to each other within the framework of the God-given abilities and inclinations of each. ( Ephesians 5:21) Once the church attained legal status under Emperor Constantine, laws were enacted recognizing women as having the right to own property and to sue for redress against unfaithful husbands.
*Exerted a profound civilizing effect on barbarians and primitive cultures; creating alphabets, recording histories, promoting civility and establishing the rule of law.
*Promoted civil liberties, everyone being entitled to the same protection and benefits of society.
*Fostered representative government, particularly as it has developed in America; each person having certain “unalienable rights,” thus deserving a voice in how they are governed.
*The ideas behind Capitalism and free enterprise, although having their own pitfalls to be guarded against, were based on the concept that no one person or group of individuals is inherently more deserving than anyone else to seek personal fulfillment and financial independence.
*Exploration was often driven by the desire to evangelize, many prostituting this endeavor by ruthlessly seeking riches, others legitimately seeking to introduce indigenous peoples to salvation through Christ.
*Literacy through education was promoted by a Sunday School, originally offering courses in basic educational skills to commoners until higher learning was taken out of the hands of the social elite and offered universally to all.
*Hospitals were established and began offering universal health care during the Middle Ages at the instigation of churches and people of faith.
*Universities were likewise begun during the Middle Ages, most started by Christians for Christian purposes, often with little distinction between religious and secular application as both were considered the realm of believers.
*Benevolence ministries and charity became a trademark of Christian character, soon mimicked by others throughout the world, the Good Samaritan ethic put into practice.
*The corrective nature of scripture concerning adultery, incest, homosexuality and other perversions commonly practiced in many pagan cultures helped preserve the institution of marriage and families – and thus the human race – stabilizing civil society and sparing many from heartache and disease.
*Became the inspiration for and commissioned the creation of some of the world’s greatest works of art, helping create an appreciation for beauty and the sublime.
*Countless souls were and are being transformed from liabilities to society to assets through the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and the restorative efforts of his followers in the church.3
All this and more was accomplished only as the church and it’s adherents championed their primary function of leading the lost to Christ, impacting society on a broad scale when they made it a point to, “…fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider(ing) what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24 “…seek(ing) first his kingdom and his righteousness, (realizing then that all the earthly things we need) will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
1Mr Lecky, English Skeptic – from History of European Morals .
2From Mr Drummey’s – Review of the News
3From Dr. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcomb’s book, What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, Nelson Publishing
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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