I missed taking notes on some of the other sessions in the late morning. They were very good and were about an Indian woman working for justice for the oppressed in Chennai and a South American pastor calling for integrity in leadership based on the Samuel/Saul experience. It was good to just listen instead of trying to take notes.
John Ortberg: Pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church
Author: Who Is This Man?
Who was this man?
Jesus, in the midst of a dark and oppressive world 2000 years ago, had a vision of what the world could be. We often argue about Christianity without meditating or marveling over the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus never had position, led an army, wrote a book, or did anything of that nature. His followers were unschooled, ordinary men. How did Jesus start the greatest movement the world has ever known?
Look at Colossians 3:11. The Church was fundamentally different than any other group we had ever known. Before the church, there had never been a community that included all people from all races, tribes, and tongues to bring transformation to the world. It was Jesus' idea and the germination of that idea has transformed the world. How did an unschooled carpenter initiate this?
Jesus changed how we see history. Without Jesus, we have no idea of progress. The calendar used to be based on the reign of rulers, the Caesars. But, as their influence waned, by the 6th century, there was a shift and a new idea. The West decided to shift the focus from Caesar to Jesus and make Him the Hinge of History. Every time we name a date, we refer to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Jesus changed how the world shapes and expresses compassion. The beautiful, noble, and strong were admired in ancient Rome. The weak and the marginal were not generally valued in the ancient world. Seneca said that they drowned children at birth when they were weak and abnormal. The girl-child was killed because she was unnecessary. Rodney Stark says that there were 1.4 million boys for every 1 million girls because the girl-child was killed. But, the followers of Jesus expressed Jesus' idea of "let the little children come to me." Christians changed the view of children.
"When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity." OM Bakke.
Jesus and His teachings and His followers changed the way that women were treated as well.
In the first 2 centuries, there were plagues that killed up to 1/3 of the population of the Roman Empire. People would take those who were sick and suffering from the plague and they did what Jesus did in caring for the lepers and the blind and the lame and the mute. "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." Benedict started the first hospital in the 4th century. The Red Cross was influenced by Jesus. Instead of discarding the weak and getting rid of them, the teaching of Jesus influenced people to care for those in need.
Jesus and the Shaping of Education. In the Greco-Roman world, education was reserved for male children from elite families. But, the Church - this odd community - began to teach everyone, as they followed the example of Jesus (Matt. 28:18-20). By the 4th century, monasteries were formed where the teachings of Jesus were preserved and eventually universities were developed. In America, 92% of universities started before the Civil War were begun in the name of Jesus. In Massachusetts in the 17th century, the first law to fund mass education was called 'The Old Deluder Satan Act' because they believed that God wanted people to learn.
What made it possible for science to emerge? The medieval insistence on the rationality of God. Science existed before this, but it never was codified in the way that it was in the Middle Ages as a response to worship of God through rationality.
Jesus followers developed the written languages of more ethnic groups than any other movement. His followers initiated the arts in their modern expression and education as we know it.
The Jesus movement changed political theory. "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God." This is the first time that we see any kind of separation between the religion and the state. There are things that do not belong to Caesar. There are things in life that do not belong to the culture and to the Powers that Be. Jesus said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." That changes His followers.
Jesus changed how we think about human rights and dignity. Look at the "self-evident" "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence. For those who say that they believe in a "God of Love," where did they get that idea from? It was not from the ancient gods. It came from Jesus and His followers. Jesus showed us that God is a God of love.
Galatians 3:28 - neither Jew, Greek slave, free, male, or female - you are all one in Christ Jesus. Thomas Cahill says that this is the first expression of egalitarianism in human history.
Jesus uniquely taught love of enemies. No one thought of this before. Turn the cheek. Go the extra mile. Love your enemy. When Jesus was being executed, He asked the Father to forgive His executors. They did not know what they were doing. His followers remembered this and they followed Him and died the same way. Nero would take Christians and cover them with pitch/tar and light them as human torches to light the gladiator games.
Forgiveness as a concept in human affairs was initiated by Jesus of Nazareth - Hannah Arnedt.
Tolstoy was affected by the Sermon on the Mount and he influenced Ghandi. Jesus was at the root of their writings and movements. Martin Luther King, Jr. departed from his script in his great speech at the Washington Mall in 1963 to speak of the Dream - it was not a secular dream. It was Jesus' dream.
Who IS Jesus? What impact has he had? What if we followed Him today? What if we carried His teachings into the next generation? Will you be the one to follow Jesus - He alone conquered death, took our sins, is the Son of God, rose from the dead, and give new life to all who believe in Him. He is the Savior of the World - will you follow Him?
All that God is doing in the world or is going to do - God's vision and future for the world is summed up in Jesus Christ. He is worth giving your life to.
The message of Jesus has been primarily entrusted to churches to live out before a watching world and to spread out to the world. It is a life-changing, world-changing message.