What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?

In “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the angel Clarence helps George Bailey to recognize the good things that would not have happened if George had not been born.  During this Christmas season, I think it is helpful to ponder what the world would be like if Jesus had never been born.
 
Besides the fact there would be no “Christmas” without Jesus, the obvious difference would be in our calendar.  This is  2019 A.D., meaning it is approximately two thousand and nineteen years since Jesus was born.  The “A.D” stands for the Latin “Anno Domini” meaning “the year of the Lord.”  Some folks use the phrase “The Common Era” (C.E.) to describe our, calendar. Yet, what happened two thousand and nineteen years ago that makes it the common starting point of the calendar? The answer is obvious.  The birth of Jesus Christ.  None of the other “great events in human history” even begin to compare with the impact Jesus has had on this planet.  This is why our calendar is based upon his birth, not anyone else’s.
 
So what is the big difference Jesus has made on human history?  In our day, some people lament the influence Jesus and his followers have had on the world.  Yet, amid all the complaints about Christianity, an objective view of history reveals that Jesus and his followers have had a very positive impact.  One obvious contribution is education.  Universities were started by European Christians in the middle ages to help people grow in their understanding of God, His Word, and His world.  In the U.S., most of the Ivy League colleges were founded for the purpose of training pastors.  Harvard’s original motto was “Christo Et Ecclesiae” meaning “For Christ and His Church.”  Christians have been the primary advocates of universal schooling because they believe it is important that people become literate so they can read the Bible.  If it were not for Wycliffe Bible Translators, many tribal and other languages would not even exist in written form. Those who value education can be very thankful Jesus was born.
 
Though our political system faces some current challenges, it would be much worse if Jesus had never been born.  Thomas Jefferson was apparently not a Christian, but without Jesus there would be no “Declaration of Independence.”  The idea that “all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” is an idea rooted in the Bible.  Luc Ferry, an atheist philosopher, concedes, “It was Christianity that introduced the notion that men are equal in dignity; and unprecedented idea at the time and one to which our world owes its entire democratic inheritance.”  If Jesus was never born, it is unlikely that civil liberties, economic freedom and democratic republics would exist to the degree they do today.  
 
The list of positive influences by followers of Jesus includes the abolition of slavery, civil rights for racial minorities, elevating the status of women, scientific discoveries, the founding of hospitals and relief agencies, protecting animals from unnecessary cruelty, the transformation of violent, barbaric cultures (e.g., “the Vikings”) and some of the finest art and music (e.g., Rembrandt and Bach) ever produced.  Yes, there have certainly been some very bad things done by people who claimed to be Christians.  Yet, the net impact of Jesus and his followers is clearly positive.   It is a good thing for all of us that Jesus was born.  Christmas is a great time for non-Christians to celebrate the birth of the greatest person in human history.  It is a wonderful time for Christians to celebrate how when Jesus was born, “the Son of God became man, so that men could become the sons of God.”
 
Merry Christmas,
 Rev. Dan Erickson, Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church
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Dan Erickson

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