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Side Effect of the Incarnation: Elevation of Human Life

In the days leading up to Christmas I will be posting a series on some of the good works and wonderful blessings to mankind that are a “side effect” of Jesus’ birth. (See the introductory post here.) This series is inspired by “What if Jesus Had Never Been Born” by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy.
Christ showed in his life and death that every human life, no matter how degenerate, matters to Him. He also reinforced the foundational teaching that God made men and women in His own image (Genesis 1:27), giving them real value. 

Here are a few of the millions of specific examples one can find of people inspired by Christ to value human life when it was hard to do….
  • Justinian, a Christian emperor of Byzantium, formally codified humanitarian laws inspired by Christianity in a sweeping reform of the cruel laws and practices of the Romans. These included outlawing the cruel pagan practice of abortion (including exposure of unwanted children to the elements), mandating that children found abandoned be cared for and baptized. He also created legislation: against some cruel sports practiced at the time; to protect slaves from some forms of cruelty; to protect the outcast; and to protect women.
  • The invention of hospitals. Quoting from an article in 2008 published in the Croatian Medical Journal, “A radical change occurred in the late Antiquity, with the rise of Christianity, which embraced charity as one of its basic doctrines. The first hospitals were founded when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.” 
  • Chivalry was invented by the Church as a means to tone down and check the violence of barbarian warlords. As Leon Gautier, arguably still the foremost expert in the study of chivalry from medieval literature, puts it: “Not being able to prevent war, the Church has Christianized the soldier. And so we are logically led to elucidate the origin of this chivalry, which on a former page we have termed ‘a German custom idealized by the Church.’”
  • William Wilberforce, inspired by the gospel (and partly due to the influence of a former slave trader converted to Christ), worked tirelessly to abolish the slave trade in England in the 18th century.
  • Florence Nightingale, inspired by a calling from Christ, risked her life during the Crimean war to improve the condition of wounded soldiers, and then risked her reputation to improve the work of nurses everywhere. She said, “People talk about imitating Christ, and imitate Him in the little trifling formal things, such as washing the feet, saying His prayer, and so on; but if anyone attempts the real imitation of Him, there are no bounds to the outcry with which the presumption of that person is condemned.”
  • Cannabalism in Fiji and other islands was eradicated when the gospel spread by brave missionaries, like Thomas Baker, who risked (and in his case, gave) their lives to tell islanders about Christ.
  • JT Olsen, inspired by Christian faith, founded an organization called Both Hands, which has helped thousands of orphans that might otherwise be outcast and even starving on the street to find homes. And this while helping widows repair their houses. 

And there you have it! A few more reasons you should think of the birth of Christ as tidings of great comfort and joy!    

    “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” -Matthew 25:40

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