FAITH & REFLECTION — Did Jesus’ entrance into this world make a difference? Did He change anything? Historian Jeroslav Pelikan supposed these questions to be rhetorical. He wrote, “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of western culture for almost 20 centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”
To begin with, the dating system was changed by the birth of Christ. The traditional B.C. and A.D. (the contractions B.C.E. and C.E. have been introduced to replace these) were based upon Jesus’ arrival on this planet. This dating system was introduced by sixth-century monk, Dionysius Exiguus. We know his dating was slightly off, because the Bible tells us that Herod the Great ruled Palestine at the time of Jesus’ birth. By Exiguus’ dating, Herod died in 4 B.C., but he did the best he could with the information available to him.
Jesus’ impact upon the arts was profound. Francis Schaeffer in “How Should We Then Live?” points out that art and music were strongly affected by Christianity. He asserted that music became upbeat and exhilarating and art took on a more appreciable and realistic expression.
Jesus and His followers have profoundly affected the field of science. R. Stark in “For the Glory of God” stated, “Modern science was born of the Christian faith and not in opposition to it. It was Christian civilization that proposed that design points to a Designer.”
Probably the most remarkable change and challenge that Jesus made, was and is that individuals must decide what to do with Him. Dallas Willard in “The Divine Conspiracy” summarizes this so powerfully. He writes, “When we see Jesus as He is, we must turn away, or else shamelessly adore Him. That must be kept in mind for any authentic understanding of the power of Christian faith.” Willard is saying that, when as individuals we are confronted with the person, the power and the promises of Christ, a decision must be made as to what to do with Him.
The majority of the world recognizes Jesus as an extraordinary and honoured historical figure and the founder of Christianity. But for the majority, that is the end of it. They do not press on to learn more and to appreciate His extraordinary life, magnificent teaching, remarkable promises and breathtaking resurrection. They recognize His unparalleled effect on mankind and history, but stop short of personally believing in Him.
Did Jesus’ entrance into this world make a difference? Indisputably! Did He change anything? Undeniably! The real question is, have you invited Him to change you?