My brother admits that he sometimes reminds people of Cliff Claven, the Cheers character who could enlighten, extend and confuse any conversation with his “little known facts.” The difference between my brother and Cliff is that my brother’s little known facts are more often correct. Recently he rocked my life-long assumptions by informing me that the Greeks knew the earth was round over two thousand years ago and actually calculated the circumference of the earth two hundred years before Christ. I checked it out. He was right. They calculated the circumference of the earth to be 250,000 stadia, or 24, 662 miles. This happened somewhere around 210 B.C. The actual distance is 24, 901 miles.
Am I the only one that missed this? When I went to school, I was taught that Columbus sailed bravely westward across the Atlantic, destined, by the prevailing assumptions of that day, to fall off the edge of the flat earth. But now, I am told every Christian scholar in the Middle Ages believed the earth was round. The problem, they thought, was that there was nothing in the Atlantic between Europe and India and the distance was too great. Columbus mistakenly thought the world was smaller than it is and accidentally discovered the new world.
Why didn’t I know this? How did I miss this little known fact in my studies of history and science? How can we spend a lifetime having a false understanding of world history?
What we believe about history makes a difference. It changes our actions and our destiny. The single most important event in human history is the resurrection of Jesus. This event shapes all our understanding about life and death and forms the foundation of our values. Yet billions have never heard of Jesus’ resurrection. And millions more live as if it never happened.
The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Cor. 15:17-20)
Jesus came to correct our wrong assumptions about God and about life on this earth. He turned conventional wisdom on its head by exhorting us to love our enemies, to help those who cannot help us, to accept foreigners and aliens. He demonstrated by His life that God loves us and, instead of requiring us to offer sacrifices to Him, He gave His own life as the ultimate sacrifice for us.
If Jesus was raised from the dead, then life is no longer measured in terms of wealth and power. With His resurrection, He reset the measurement for success to include how we serve the “least of these” who live among us. With His resurrection, He declared that death could no longer rob us of meaning and purpose. Living in a world without the resurrection is like living on a flat earth.