– Francis Chan
Devotional: 4 Major Ways Christianity Changed the World
This is a very powerful quote because it really sums up the whole point behind Christianity. Christianity is not some sort of accessory you put on the pedestal that makes you feel good or make you feel you look better in the eyes of other people. In fact, that’s the very opposite of the impact real Christianity should play in your life. Christianity is supposed to be transformative.
The foundation of Christianity of course can be summed up in a phrase from the Book of John 1: God is love. If you believe in God, then you believe in love. If you believe in love, love will transform you. If you let love transform you, you have to share that love.
This is precisely the logical flow that enables Christianity to change the world in four profound ways. Here are the four major ways Christianity changed the world.
Christians ended slavery
The scourge of slavery has been with humanity since almost the beginning. Every time there’s a war, every time there is a conquest by one group of people by another; slavery takes place.
The owning of fellow human beings cuts across cultural and religious lines since time immemorial. It seems that no society on the face of this planet was ever immune from the curse of slavery.
However, starting in the late 1700s, a movement began in Christian England to outlaw slavery. Thanks to the United Kingdom’s investment of its military and financial power, slavery, for all intents and purposes, in the modern world have disappeared. Sure, there are still informal slave markets in certain parts of the world but in terms of institutional open slavery as a global economic activity, it’s definitely a thing of the past.
Who brought this particularly evil practice to an end? Christians did.
Christians are the only people in the history of the world that finally put an end to a global slavery. Other societies didn’t accomplish this tremendous and profound change.
This is rooted in the fact that Apostle Paul in many places in the New Testament keeps saying that the gospel is the same for all people, and Jesus Christ loves all his children. Similarly, if you look at John 3:16, God’s love is for whosoever. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or a Greek, a man or woman, slave or free.
If you believe that God sent his only begotten son so that the world will be saved through his sacrifice, then you will be saved. That is the gospel that animated the Christian movement to end slavery once and for all.
Christian compassion ended infanticide
One of the reasons why Christianity spread so fast in the ancient world was because there were a lot of ancient practices that were really horrible. In ancient Greece, for example, infants that had a birth defect or just weren’t liked by their parents can be abandoned at birth. They could be left on the hillside and left to die or die by exposure or be torn to bits by wild animals.
Christianity put an end to that practice, and this is part of the reason why so many early converts flocked to this new faith. They saw that Christianity was not about the strong dominating the weak, but it’s about a system where in all people, regardless of their strength, how much money they have, whether they’re disabled or not, can still be treated as equal children of God.
To say that Christianity is egalitarian is to put it mildly. If you read all the books of the Bible, they all point to one conclusion: God does not discriminate among his children. This is a completely revolutionary thought because previous religious tradition was all about domination and all about a hierarchy of being. There’s none of that in Christianity.
Christianity gave a bigger voice to women
Even during the days of ancient Greece which is famed for its democracy and its ideas regarding individual freedom, women really got the short end of the stick.
For the most part, women were just looked at as baby factories. In fact, there’s a large number of Greek literature that prized romantic relationships among men over romantic relationships between men and women. That’s how dramatically persecuted and undervalued women were in the ancient world. In terms of political rights, legal rights, and economic rights, women were beneath men.
Thanks to Christian teachings regarding the role of Mary Magdalene and the egalitarian of nature of Christianity, women played a big role in the development of the early church. In fact, during the Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, it was his female patrons that enabled him to find safe platforms with which to spread the gospel.
This female-friendly approach of Christianity also helped explain its rapid spread. It definitely gave people in the ancient world an alternative to the sexist belief systems of earlier religious traditions.
Christianity brought the separation between church and state
While a lot of critics of Christianity gladly blame God for many of the religious wars that claimed a lot of lives throughout history, there is one key by-product of all those struggles that they conveniently overlooked.
The reality is that after the Protestant Reformation, there were so many Protestant denominations that formed that there was no majority faith. This led to the spread of the idea of a separation between the state and church. In other words, within one society, there could be many different Christian denominations and there is no one official state church.
This led to religious tolerance, which forms the bedrock of modern Western political thinking. This led to less religious persecution overall.