(This is the second half of my answer to the question, “What good has the church ever done for the world?” I posted part one last week.)
One way to see how Christianity has affected our world is to compare areas that have historically been Christian to areas where the church is largely absent.
Probably the clearest understanding of the difference the church has made, and is still making, in the world comes from a short article written in 1990 by missiologist Luis Bush. He describes a concept called the “10/40 Window”—a square box drawn on a map of the eastern hemisphere between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north. In that part of the world you will find the spiritual center of the major non-Christian religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) and the least access to Christian resources.
Of course, we’re talking about a generalization. There are glaring exceptions, such as the inclusion of Korea, a predominantly Christian country with a high standard of living, and the exclusion of Indonesia with its huge Muslim population.
“What good has this “my way or the highway to hell” religion ever done for the world?” —TheFriendlyAtheist
It hurts to come across statements like the one above (I found it in the comments section of an article I was reading). Christianity has done a world of good in the last two thousand years. The sad thing is that few people are aware of our legacy. This is largely the church’s fault. True, we don’t want to boast, but a bit of PR might make a big difference. Besides, these aren’t our accomplishments—they are God’s blessings. Shouldn’t we tell everyone what God has done?
Here is my answer to TheFriendlyAtheist:
You know how I keep telling you I’ve read the Best Book Ever and I just have to share it? Yes, this is another one of those posts. Except this time, really, this book is amazing! It’s called With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, by Skye Jethani (note the link to his blog on the right side of this page). His previous book, The Divine Commodity, was excellent, and I highly recommend it. But this time, Jethani hit the ball out of the park. In one relatively short volume he manages to diagnose the problems with much of what passes for American Christianity, and offer a solution that leads directly back to Jesus. Pretty impressive!
Much of the grumbling I hear in the church has to do with the godless culture in which we live. Should we fear for the church? Is our culture really that godless? Consider…
Politicians of all persuasions feel free to corrupt the truth to their own ends. They routinely break the very laws they’re sworn to uphold; they use their positions of power to lord it over those who disagree with their policies.
As of last January our national debt exceeded $17,265,987,000,000.00—that’s approximately $54,379.00 per person. Can you afford to pay your share? Probably not—the average credit card debt is $15,799. That doesn’t include mortgages, car loans, student loans, etc. As the leaders lead, so the nation follows. (See Romans 13:8)
I read a lot of articles about religion, and Christianity in particular. Even if I don’t read every word, skimming the various headlines helps me to grasp how faith is fairing in our culture. As you might guess, God isn’t very popular at the moment.
Among those touting tolerance as the highest form of morality, the one exception is tolerance of Christianity. For a while it has been fun and “cool” to make fun of Christians, and the snarkier you are, the better. Now the articles have gotten incredibly insultingly, in-your-face rude. Reading them, I feel spit upon, ridiculed, and dismissed into obscurity with a smirk. Continue reading
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Yes, I’ve heard. And no, I haven’t read the reviews.
Are you happy with your life? Are you blessed? Are you pursuing the American Dream of a good job, a nice family, and a home filled with everything you need, and a bit more beside?
Even with the economy the way it is, most of us still hope that things will improve in the future—that we’ll someday be able to have that house-with-the-picket-fence and all the trimmings.
We love to read verses such as “The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and He adds no trouble to it” (Proverbs 10:22) and, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We hear sermons about verses like this; we repeat them to others. As God’s children, we delight in the truth that they apply to us.
But what about some other verses…