Do you believe that? When we have terrible things happening in our lives are we able to see the whole picture and know that God’s plans are for good? The Bible says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11). While this verse may be comforting for you in your situation now, it is also good to look at it in terms of the good that we can see over the centuries.
I was fascinated by a book I read last year called How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J Schmidt.
in the early years of the church after Christ had risen from the dead and His followers had been empowered to spread the good news that Christ saves us all. As people came to believe in Christ their tastes and life style changed, as they were motivated by love and God’s beautiful standards. They stopped attending the bloody gladiatorial events, infanticide decreased, babies left out to die were taken in and adopted, and so on. Because they were so different and not judgmental but just going in a different direction, they began to be persecuted. Their morals did not fit in with the society they were living in. Did you know that Emperor Nero used Christians as street lamps by covering them in oil and setting fire to them? And yet they persevered and 300 years later, after so many had lost their lives through persecution, Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Schmidt then goes on to show how many good things were influenced or initiated by Christians over the centuries that followed: the sanctity of life, the elevation of women, charity and compassion, hospitals and health care, the abolishing finally of the slave trade and so on.
Sadly, we know that many calling themselves ‘Christians’ have done great evils, bringing disrepute to the church. But Jesus warned about them in the Bible, he said; “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
Many through history have also used religion as a tool for oppression. Not what Christ taught at all when He said, “Do not lord it over others”! Clearly mistakes have been made over time. However, we need to remember that the good things we enjoy in our society are largely the result of a Christian way of thinking and Christian values. Immense good has been accomplished over the centuries. If we sincerely seek we shall find a plethora of examples of virtue that have changed the world.
In these days of political upheaval and intense debate through social media we risk throwing out what is good when we think that we can go it alone without God’s love and wisdom. His plans for us really are for our good. He really does love us.