RELIGION

The Gifts of Christianity – World Religion News

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If you live on this planet, the odds are about one in three that you are a Christian.

The most populous religion on earth, Christianity is necessarily also one of the most diverse, spanning continents, cultures and races in a kaleidoscope of colors, beliefs and practices as multifarious as the world itself. Yet within the very many divisions, sects, branches and schools that profess Christendom, there is one common denominator—an individual who lived 2,000 years ago, the details of his life of which are scant and scattered, of whom we have no contemporary likeness come down to us from which we can glean any clue as to his appearance; and from which we have nothing written by the man save something unknown that he scrawled on the sand while confronting the Pharisees who sought to trap him.

And though his ideas may have been expressed before in the Old Testament and elsewhere in different words, and though the words themselves may have lost some of their impact with repetition—“Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”—they are still the most quoted words in the world.

What Jesus said may not strike us with the thunder that made those who heard them from his lips exclaim, “Never spake man thus!” But rather, it was propelled by the concept, then as well as now, that the pure and infinite love that the Creator has for mankind reminds us that there is a divine spark even in the lowliest of us.

The great gift of Christianity is the extraordinary idea of a God possessed of such abundant love for humanity that to know Him, one need only receive that love and then unleash it in turn on the world—turn the other cheek, love your enemy, give your coat to he who needs it.

Christians did not invent organized giving—2,500 years earlier, Hebrews established the practice of tithing for the poor—but the multitudes through the ages—individuals giving to charity; churches, monasteries and convents collecting it; colleges and hospitals endowed by it; and other non-profits of all types, sizes and missions—all of whom seek to emulate the example of Jesus as described by the Apostle Peter: “He went about doing good,”—the sheer volume of avenues for lovingkindness as established by Christians and their organizations is quite literally uncountable.

Moreover, Jesus’ directions to his flock to love everyone unconditionally and without editing have spawned great movements—civil rights, non-violence, freedom—often led by people of faith, Christian and non-Christian alike. Gandhi, as well as Dr. King, took much of his inspiration from the Jewish carpenter of so long ago.

And that is the great gift of Christianity—then and now: taking God’s love and turning it into a force for good so powerful and encompassing that it embraces the whole world and all of us in it.

For other articles in this series, see The Gifts of Judaism, The Gifts of Islam and The Gifts of Scientology.




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