Many people are skeptical of Christianity today. They may like Jesus, but have a lot of questions about the harm done by the Church in the name of religion. Some of this criticism is warranted. History is marked by people who have claimed to have authentic faith-- but in reality, have abused their power to oppress others.
But that is only a slice of the story. When we dig into global history, we see a richer theme of ordinary people uncovering needs and-- transformed by faith in Jesus-- becoming messengers of hope and healing. When we dig even deeper, we see that Christians are often the ones leading the way. Historically, followers of Jesus Christ have been at the vanguard of establishing hospitals, ending slavery, championing human rights, pioneering medicine, advancing science, and elevating education for all!
For a generation that wants to make the world a better place, what does this say about who Jesus really is? Today, we'll start our journey to discover the catalytic force that launched the greatest social movement in history: authentic faith in Christ!
JESUS AND HISTORY
First, let's study what historians say about whether Jesus actually lived. In author and investigative journalist John Dickerson's book, "Jesus Skeptic: A Journalist Explores the Credibility and Impact of Christianity" we learn an apologetic approach to Christianity, which is an intellectual defense of the spiritual beliefs. Beyond the Bible and Christian writings, there are 15 ancient writers - Jews, Greeks or Romans - who wrote about Jesus existing as an actual historical person. Among historians, we have far more evidence for Jesus' existence than we do for most other figures from 2,000 years ago. So, Jesus Christ is an indisputably real person among secular historians.
JESUS AND HUMAN FLOURISHING
Next, let's explore whether Jesus and Christianity lead to human flourishing. Is Christianity really good for humanity? Well, when it comes to the teachings of Jesus, in John 14:12, Jesus tells his followers that "whoever believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." So, before Jesus died and rose again to be with God the Father, he sent his followers out into the world with a mission.
Matthew 11:5 also says "The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor." Because of the mission Jesus gave his followers, we can trace leading innovations in modern medicine all the way back to devout followers of Jesus. Today, life expectancy is double what it was in Jesus' day. Why? It all started in the second century, when Christ followers began caring for the outcasts of society.
If you take the time to investigate the historical impact of Christianity - the facts and evidence - you'll see that where Christ followers are, human flourishing follows. Throughout history, Christians have dramatically improved society for all people. Jesus' followers have led the way in making the world a better place. How is it possible that a penniless preacher from Nazareth could launch a global movement that would spread across the world and last over 2,000 years? Statistically speaking, it's improbable. But, with God, it's possible.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT
Ultimately, God uses extraordinary people - like Frederick Douglas, Mary Moes and William Mayo to name a few - who devote their lives to Jesus Christ to do extraordinary good. The movement of Christ Jesus is still going on today. Skeptic or not, you are invited to be a part of it! God designed you to join the story of committed Christians who are elevating justice, freedom, education, healing the sick, caring for the poor, and securing human rights for all. So, don't base your decision about Jesus on personal feelings, but rather, base it on historical fact.
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