Jesus has had the most impact on the world of any person who ever lived. No other great leader has inspired so many positive changes in the lives of his followers. Staying true to their faith, followers of Jesus do not hesitate to face hardship, persecution and even death. Many devote their lives to serving others, minimizing their own needs and desires.
After Jesus was crucified, his disciples were devastated. They had just forsaken their Lord to save their own lives. But after seeing Jesus Christ resurrected, they were radically changed. Suddenly, they were willing to give their lives to tell Jesus' story to the world. And that’s what happened to a lot of them in the years to come.
Skeptics and enemies were also transformed. Jesus' younger brother, James, didn't think Jesus was the Messiah. But after his resurrected brother appeared to him, James not only believed Jesus was Lord but became the leader of the Jerusalem church and died a martyr in 62 A.D.
Saul of Tarsus persecuted early Christians. He dragged them to prison. When they did not recant their faith, he participated in their execution. But he had a dramatic encounter with the risen Christ on his way to Damascus, was transformed into the chief propagator of Christianity’s message, and was given a new name -- Paul. He left his position of prestige in Jewish society to become a traveling missionary who experienced incredible suffering and eventually death while sharing the news and love of Christ throughout the Roman empire.
Roman governor Plinius Secundus wrote in his Epistles X96 that Christians were people who loved the truth at any cost. Although he was ordered to torture and execute them for refusing to curse Jesus, he was continually amazed and impressed with their firm commitments "not to do any wicked deeds, never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up." For centuries, true Christians around the world have stood as shining examples of the standards of truth and love established by Jesus of Nazareth.
The power of Christ knows no boundary of time or space. Many skeptics now have been convinced just as thoroughly as their first-century counterparts. For example, Lew Wallace, a famous general and literary genius, was a known atheist. For two years, Wallace studied in the leading libraries of Europe and America, seeking information that would forever destroy Christianity. While writing the second chapter of a book outlining his arguments, he suddenly found himself on his knees crying out to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."
When confronted by solid, indisputable evidence, he could no longer deny that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. Later, Lew Wallace wrote the book Ben Hur, one of the greatest English novels ever written concerning the time of Christ.
Similarly, C.S. Lewis, a professor at Oxford University in England, was an agnostic who denied the deity of Christ for years. But he, too, in intellectual honesty, submitted to Jesus as his God and Savior after studying the overwhelming evidence for his deity. Over the years, he wrote many books to uphold the ideals of Christianity, including Mere Christianity, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters.
Not only does the love of Christ allow Christians to face persecution and death, but it also works to make the world a better place. Mother Theresa was an outstanding example of a life poured in the service of Christ. Of her well-known ministry among the poor, she said: "Our work is only the expression of the love we have for God."
Like her, many others have given their lives to serve the destitute and the outcast, either in their homeland or abroad. William and Katherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, believed that ministering to the poor was like ministering to Christ himself. The movement they launched enlisted the tireless efforts of enthusiastic people who wanted to make a difference in the world around them.
All of these followers of Jesus found fulfillment and joy in following the teachings of Jesus. They were transformed when they met Christ and yielded their lives to him. Each of them has made a positive impact on the world. They realize that agnosticism, atheism, and secular humanism hold no true answers. Christianity is still relevant to the needs of today and provides something better for those who follow Jesus.