Many sociologists and historians agree that Jesus was one of the greatest influencers in human history—yet by today’s standards, he’s the most unlikely world-changer.
He died with only a small band of followers, he didn’t write books or have social media accounts, he didn’t start a political movement or have electronic media at his disposal, and didn’t even travel the world with his message.
What then, made him so influential?
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Christian communicator Karl Faase, producer of the documentary series Jesus the Game Changer, says it was a combination of factors – including the radical and loving way he lived, his miraculous impact on the sick, the selfless way he died, and his resurrection. And, in particular, it’s the way he changed peoples’ hearts, and continues to change them today, that has caused his influence to echo throughout the centuries.
“I think the key that people need to grapple with, is that something happened which changed the way people functioned, lived and believed,” he said in an interview with Hope 103.2.
“Some believe that Jesus [simply] taught great things, made a moral example on the cross, and that brought out the best in people and made sociological changes in society.
“But if you look in the New Testament and through history, Jesus changed one person at a time. They followed what Jesus said, and they went on to change the world. Something changed in peoples’ lives.”
Karl explains that it’s the spiritual impact in peoples’ hearts and minds, that is the most powerful thing about the Jesus-movement.
“What we believe is that the resurrection broke the power of not just death, but sin in our lives,” he said. “That opened the opportunity for the Spirit of God to work in humanity, and change people in a way that psychologists and sociologists cannot explain.
“Something remarkable happened then, that still happens now.”
Society Still Seeks Answers to Life’s Questions
Those wanting to discredit Christianity are vocal about a supposed decline of the faith, saying it’s no longer as influential as it once was. But in 2017, Karl’s media group Olive Tree Media co-authored an indepth study, showing that Australians are not as hostile to Jesus as the media would have us believe.
“If you just follow the mainstream media, you’d think the church is in all sorts of trouble,” he said. “But our Faith and Belief research shows that there is quite a bit of warmth towards the idea of Jesus. People are open to discussing spiritual things and spirituality. The whole community is not angry and dismissive.”
Despite our materialistic society, people still seek deeper answers, he says.
“When at the end of the week you ask yourself ‘is this what it’s all about?’, in those times you really need some answers.”
“People are struggling to work out what life’s all about. When you’re flat out in a place like Sydney, paying for a house you don’t particularly like, by going to a job you’re not really keen on, travelling an hour and a half each way, and you’ve got your kids in about four different events, and at the end of the week you ask yourself ‘is this what it’s all about?’ In those times you really need some answers.
“And one of the answers is that life is not a mistake, it’s not just an accident of billions of years of history. We’re the result of a loving God who created us and put us here to enjoy a relationship with him and other people.
“I think that’s the place where people are asking questions, in the midst of difficulty and questions about what the point of all this is.”
Books and DVDs for Curious, Seeking Souls
Karl is the producer and presenter of a 10-part documentary series Jesus the Game Changer, exploring the impact of Jesus on the world, and why it matters for the indivudal.
The series is being used as a discussion starter and a study series in many Australian churches, and has caused many people to believe in Jesus and begin a life of faith.
When asked what other resources he would recommend for those seeking answers to questions about Jesus’ life and teachings, Karl suggested the following:
- Who Is This Man: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus, by John Ortberg, exploring Jesus’ impact on the world.
- Jesus – a Short Life by John Dixon, a look at research showing that Jesus of Nazareth was a real figure in history
- The Case for Christ (also a movie), the story of Lee Strobel, the journalist who converted to Christianity after trying very hard to disprove its beliefs.