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Darrel Smith: Jesus lightens a darkened world

Christmas is when we celebrate the entry of Jesus Christ into human history. His birth, life, death and resurrection have had such an impact that all of history is based on early guesses about when He was born. Luke 1:79 says He is, “to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” Many people don’t understand how beautiful the light is or how horrible the darkness can become, or how rapidly that darkness can overwhelm a society. Some people think modern mankind is pretty enlightened. The history of the last century demonstrates otherwise. Both light and darkness and good and evil still exist. It’s dangerous to underestimate either of them.
About 35 million soldiers died last century. Civilian deaths associated with war vary greatly including estimates of 27 to 54 million dead. The number of people killed by their own governments is many times greater than those killed by war. Rudolph J. Rummel wrote, “Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900.” His numbers are updated at, “http://tinyurl.com/Iu8z8ab.” He estimates that governments have killed about 262 million of their own subjects in the last century. These were real people like you and me. The majority of the Utopian tyrants that destroyed millions of lives denied both God and freedom.
Rummel says, “It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.”
Jesus’ life and teaching shows us a new way. None of us can attain the standards He called us to attain. Fortunately, He offers mercy, forgiveness and grace if we recognize who He is while we admit and turn from our selfishness and rebellion. What happened on the cross is an amazing event. He took the penalty for my, and all our, sin and offers us instead His forgiveness and perfect nature.
His life has powerfully impacted Western Civilization, democracy, freedom and discovery. Jesus is one of the most important cultural influencers the world has ever experienced.