If God does exist and does interact with His creation, you would expect Him to have a positive effect on people. While I’m aware that some people have had a bad ‘church’ experience and that some don’t like the moral restraints God has put on humanity, the positive effects He has had far outweigh the negative ones. Let’s examine some…
Be aware that I will be summarizing a lot of material from our class “How Christianity Changed the World”. So for more in-depth detail, please take that class.
1…the transformed lives of the disciples…at their leader’s crucifixion, they were cowards. When the message of the resurrection came, they had to be convinced. But once convinced, they never doubted again. These simple men & women gave the world the highest ethical teaching it has ever known. They believed and preached it, even to their deaths. Think of the absurdity of a little band of cowards in an upper room one day and a few days later, transformed into a group that no persecution could silence. And then attempting to attribute this change to nothing more than these people trying to start their own religion. Who would die for a lie? Their lives had been transformed by Jesus living in them.
2…the transformed lives of the early, persecuted Christians…Roman Emperors who violently persecuted these early Christians were Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Antonius Pius, Marcus Aurelius ( yes, the one in the movie ‘Gladiator’), Decius, Valerian, Diocletian, Maximian & Galerian. Fed to the lions, lighted as torches for Nero’s orgy garden parties, legs cut off, broken, torn apart and ripped apart by beasts in the arena, women thrown into brothels to suffer shame before being executed, etc. In spite of three centuries of persecutions, Christians did not attack their pagan enemies. They shed no blood but their own.
3…the transformed lives of 2,000 years of history…Ever since the crucifixion & resurrection of Jesus, people (who have been separated by time & place) have claimed that their lives changed by one man…Jesus Christ. Other religions don’t claim that their messiah is still living, is coming back and has changed their lives. People like James Clerk Maxwell (discoverer of the laws of electro-magnetism), Mitsuo Fuchida (Japanese pilot who lead the attack on Pearl Harbor), Nicky Cruz (gang leader), literary giants C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Charles Dickens, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & George MacDonald, skeptics like Lew Wallace (author of Ben-Hur, the best selling novel of the 19th century), Harriet Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the 2nd best selling novel of the 19th century)…and the list goes on and on. The French Emperor Napolean said he could not imagine having his soldiers die for him AFTER he was dead, yet that is what he observed with Christians. And Christians are still being raped, tortured, maimed and killed for their faith. There were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than in all 19 centuries before. Half (some 35 million) of all Christian who have died for their faith did so in the 20th century alone. 2015 is the worst year EVER for Christian martyrs. No other world religion has had such transformative power in people’s lives. Please refer to the books “Jesus Freaks” and “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” for specific accounts of persecutions.
Interesting note…there were 10 1st century messianic movements in Palestine. Christ’s was the only one that succeeded.