Why Jesus Matters

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Why Jesus Matters

Post  FaithfulSon on Tue 29 Jul 2008, 9:44 pm

The following came out of the book "Why Jesus Matters" written by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz:
Until Christ's time, human life had little value in most societies. Certain lives have always been appreciated - people in power always considered their lives to be precious. But the lives of others - those who were disfavored or who were of little economic worth - were considered of no significance. When Jesus came along, He changed that perspective.

Jesus operated from the premise that every human life has value because all of humanity was created in God's image. He boldly proclaimed that God loved the entire world, and that God was personally interested in every individual. When these concepts work their way into a culture, the result is protection of human rights. Thus, the U.S. Declaration of Independence declares that all people are "created equal" and are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."

Proclaiming the value of human life isn't very controversial now, but it was when Jesus preached this message. Certain segments of the population had no political clout and, consequently, were treated as having no value (although the Roman Empire would have collapsed without them). For these despised classes of humanity, Jesus declared the worth of the individual.

Children:

In the ancient world, life was cheap, and children were no exception. Child sacrifices were common in the Far East. In the Roman Empire, the decision to have a child was made after it was born. If you wanted it, you kept it; if you didn't want it, you abandoned it at a convenient dumpsite constructed for this purpose. Imagine the paradigm shift when Jesus said: "Let the children come to Me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

Women:

Before the time of Christ's influence, women in most of the world were viewed on a par with cattle. A wife was her husband's property. Females usually had no dignity or rights. Theirs was a world of service, ranking slightly higher than a slave. But Jesus raised the status of women out of social degradation. In His role as a type of Rabbi, He dignified them by letting them study His teachings (which was a privilege reserved for "men only" in the Jewish culture). The apostle Paul reiterated Christ's teaching on the value of a wife. He instructed husbands to love and serve their wives just as Christ loved and served the church. As if using the sacrificial death of Christ as a standard wasn't enough, Paul told the husbands to love their wives as much as those husbands loved themselves. In that male-centered society, this was a major culture shift.

Slaves:

Skeptics of Christ often condemn His failure to denounce slavery. Instead, they say, He condoned the evil practice. These critics overlook the fact that Christ actually brought the end of slavery in many cultures. He didn't do it by initiating a mandatory social reform (which would have collapsed the social structure since half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves). Rather, He worked from inside out. By reforming human hearts, over time He reformed the social order. The apostle Paul illustrated Christ's approach by asking a wealthy Christian slave owner to welcome back a runaway slave with kindness and as a beloved brother.

Christ's concepts about the value of life were contrary to the culture of His time. His principles began a cultural shift that has promoted and protected human rights through the centuries. From time to time, as any society moves farther away from Christ's precepts, the value of life in that culture is diminished. If you ever wonder if Jesus matters, just consider if your life matters. It does to Him."

By George Konig
January 1, 2006
www.konig.org

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