What would life be like today if Jesus never lived?
For a moment, let’s set aside the implications of eternity and consider the impact that the life of Jesus has had—and continues to have—here on Earth. Several obvious things come to mind: without Jesus there would be no New Testament in our Bibles, no Christmas festivities with the associated tradition of gift-giving, no celebration of Easter, no Catholic or Protestant churches dotting the landscape, and I think it’s safe to say that gold, silver, wooden, or diamond-studded crosses wouldn’t be sold as popular jewelry accessories.
Without question, had Jesus never lived, the way we experience life on the planet would be radically different. Until recently, I never fully stopped to consider the extent to which the life of Jesus has impacted civilization. Thanks to the fantastic research and writing of Dr. Alvin Schmidt, a retired professor of sociology, I now have a deeper appreciation for the “shaping force” of Christianity in the world.
Dr. Schmidt’s book, As Dr. Schmidt points out, a host of Western Civilizations highest achievements were byproducts of men and women whose lives were changed by Christ—and yet, there are few resources highlighting the “multitude of influences and effects that Jesus Christ, through His followers, has had on the world, lifting civilization to the highest plateau ever known.”
I was fascinated as Dr. Schmidt demonstrated how Christianity elevated the understanding of sexual morality, inspired the invention of hospitals and proper health care, introduced the revolutionary idea of the equality of man and the need to abolish slavery, liberated women from a second-class status, and birthed a formal system of education.
Take the education of children. Friedrich Froebel, a devout believer in Jesus, was the first person to have the idea of Kindergarten. Dr. Schmidt writes that Froebel’s Christian beliefs “convinced him that the world of man and nature were connected by God. He felt this needed to be taught to children at an early age . . . One day while walking in the mountains, he came upon the idea of a school that would allow young children to grow under the care of an expert gardener (a teacher) in a child’s garden (kindergarten).”
I never knew that, nor did I know that a Lutheran layman, Johann Sturm, “introduced graded levels of education, a system that he felt would motivate students to study because they would be rewarded by advancing to the next level.” Dr. Schmidt continues, “Today graded education is taken for granted on all levels—elementary, secondary, and higher education. While people in most countries know and value graded education, not many know that behind this system lies the thinking of an educator whose intellect was formed and shaped by his Savior.”
Again, that’s something I wasn’t aware of until now. From the concept of freedom of speech, to the inductive, experimental method used in science, Dr. Schmidt has assembled a wonderful collection of historical evidence showing how our world was changed by the followers of Jesus. After finishing the book, I had even more reasons to be thankful that Jesus came to Earth.