Monday, October 22, 2012

Making a Difference

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you
my faith by what I do.

-- James 2:18

Have you ever wondered if The Church really makes a difference in the world? Would life be any different without it?

These are common questions raised these days by our ever-skeptical society. But they're hardly new questions. In fact, disbelievers and doubters have been around since Jesus' death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, they're questions that deserve honest answers.

And the answers are all around us. Several years ago, D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcomb collaborated to write What If Jesus Had Never Been Born, a thought-provoking book that addresses the issue. The authors explain that if Jesus had never been born, there would be no Church. This is the same Church that helped stop slavery, cannibalism and the killing of children--all permissible practices at the time in their respective cultures. And if Jesus had never been born and there were no Church, the world would likely be less educated. Christian missionaries first set many of the world's languages in type to help the people read the Bible. And all but one of the first 123 colleges in Colonial America were Christian institutions. Harvard was even founded on this statement:

"Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3."

If Jesus had never been born, there would also be no Church to promote the biblical principles of free enterprise, private property rights and the worth ethic. It's because the United States government was founded largely by Christ-followers that The Declaration of Independence cites "self-evident truths" and "unalienable rights" from the "Creator." Our nation also recognizes the rule of law rather than the authority of man, a concept tracing back to the Old Testament and the Ten Commandments. Even the slogan embossed on the Liberty Bell comes from the Bible: "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof..."

The truth is that The Church HAS made a difference. And life would be very different without it. Today, Christ-followers continue to change the world in both small ways and large, such as by delivering meals to shut-ins or providing housing for the homeless. Samaritan's Purse--the Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham--also distributes Christmas packages each year as a direct expression of Christ's love for the world's children. And the organization also helps thousands of refugees cope with man-made and natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia and other nations, and the Sudanese refugee crisis.

Of course, there's something that we--The Church--must never forget: There's a Power behind this difference.

"I am the vine; you are the branches," declares Jesus. "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

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