Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
I don’t know who first said the line, “I spent my whole life climbing the ladder only to discover that it was leaning up against the wrong building”, but I appreciate it. It captures the angst of middle age. And, at least it seems to me, is an idea that crossed the Apostle Paul’s mind a time or two.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
We’ve heard the arguments before. We’ve heard it from both ends – those scientific materialists who say that dead bodies do not rise (as if the resurrection was just some kind of Frankenstinian cosmic shock wave that re-volted Jesus’ cellular activity back into action), and from the spiritualists who echo (without understanding) the Bultmanian idea of Jesus rising in the kerygma of the early church. Both miss the point.
We’ve also heard it said that, “Even if we are wrong about everything in the Christian faith, it is still a great way of life.” Well, I’ve been a Christian a long time and I still wonder what measurement stick one would use to really solve that one.
The mystery of the resurrection will ever remain mystery. But as we ponder it, let’s keep a couple of points crystal clear. The resurrection is God’s doing, not ours. The resurrection is not something to be understood by us (therefore falling under our control), but something to be confessed (thereby acknowledging again that God is God, we’re not, and God has broken into life to remind us anew that that is the way that works.)
In the cross, something old was declared done, and in the resurrection, something radically new was declared begun. God’s work of new creation is afoot and we’ve been caught up into it. I don’t know whether or not that is a better way of life but I trust that it is the hope of the world.
Let us pray: Renew, resurrect, re-create us, God of power and majesty and infinite love. Shed the light of your love on our paths, that we might be about your will, in your time, through the humble moments of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.