Clergy, author continue Jesus' story
Author John Ortberg discusses Jesus' ongoing influence on the world in his book “Who is This Man?” and local clergy talk about how Jesus' ministry and message is being shared at Christmas.
“The historical impact of Jesus' thinking is so pervasive that it is often taken for granted.”
— John Ortberg in “Who is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus.”
The image of Jesus as a babe wrapped in swaddling clothing is typically front and center throughout the Christmas season.
The beloved Christmas story culminating with His birth in a humble manger is a tale that is recounted in countless homes and churches.
However, local church leaders and noted author John Ortberg said Jesus' life story just kept getting better.
In fact, they said Jesus' message and ministry continues to influence the world more than 2,000 years after His birth.
Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in northern California, discussed Jesus' impact on the world at the Religion Newswriters Association's annual conference held in the fall in Bethesda, Md. Ortberg said he wrote his new book “Who is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus” to explore the many ways Jesus' message and ministry has impacted the culture through the years.
“I think most people, not just outside the church, but inside the church, have no idea of the impact that Jesus has had on the world,” Ortberg said. “It's just striking how Jesus is the man who just won't go away.”
Ortberg said Jesus' influence can be found in the positive light people see virtues like compassion, humility and forgiveness to the desire to help one's fellow man, which led Christians to start hospitals, universities and charities.
He said the controversy earlier this year surrounding a recently discovered fragment of fourth-century papyrus seemed to emphasize how much Jesus has affected today's world. A Harvard Divinity School professor brought the fragment forward saying that it included, in ancient Coptic, a phrase where Jesus refers to his wife. (The incomplete fragment was ultimately inconclusive on Jesus' marital status.)
“Who would have guessed 2,000 years ago that Jesus' marital status would have generated more conversation than (A-list actress) Jennifer Aniston's?” Ortberg said. “Who would have thought?”
Several metro-area clergymen said the premise of Ortberg's book seems to fall in step with the Christmas season, as Christians around the world celebrate Jesus' birth. The Rev. Marty Grubbs, senior pastor of Crossings Community Church, said he has been preaching a Christmas message series that explores the ways the world changed when Jesus arrived.
He said the series, called “Everything Changed,” challenges people to examine the ways that Jesus' ministry and message should alter the broken world in which He came to save.