So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun. Ecclesiastes 8:15 (NLT)
But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NLT)
What if I’m wrong?
Lately, I have seen a few Christians offering an old argument about Easter and the Christian’s belief in the Resurrection. I was introduced to this argument in a sermon by the first pastor under which I worked as a staff member in the early 80s. It bothered me then and it bothers me now. It goes like this:
“If I am wrong about the Resurrection, I have wasted my life. If you are wrong, you have wasted your eternity.”
That, or some derivative thereof.
My problem with that statement is that “if” comes from a shadow of doubt.
“Well, maybe I am wrong, but what if I am? What have I done but live a good, moral, clean life?”
Neither Paul nor Solomon would support such reasoning. Solomon’s diatribe on “life under the sun” examines a world where all you see is all there is. He concludes that the best thing to do if that is the case is to indulge your appetites. Enjoy yourself. It’s all about how much fun you can have and how much sensual satisfaction you can get.
That, my friend, is not the conclusion of the Puritanical believer who harbors doubt but figures at least he is better than all his worldly neighbors.
Solomon is offering the philosophy, “Get all you can. Can all you get. Sit on the can.” Live for you! Go for it, man. This is it! Live it up. Party like it’s 1999. Why not?
Paul said that the Christian who gives up so much for the faith, who suffers ridicule and is ostracized, who finds himself forever the targeted enemy of Planned Parenthood, Big Government, Hollywood, LGBTQIA folk, Big Business, and pompous billionaires who want to end the antiquated Christian worldview are just a miserable lot, a pitiful bunch — if there is no Resurrection. In fact, those who deny the Resurrection see Christians exactly that way — pitiful, uninformed, unenlightened, just a weed in the garden of the evil they call good.
Those who deny the Resurrection see Christians exactly that way, pitiful, uninformed, unenlightened — just a weed in the garden of the evil they call good.
There was a fellow Jesus told us about. The guy was austere. He had that stiff-upper-religious-lip approach to life, despite not knowing anything about any Resurrection. He was just darn proud of himself for the way he behaved. And wouldn’t God be pleased with that? Here’s Jesus’ telling of the story…
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! Luke 18:11
The Texan version of this is, “Lord, I don’t drink, smoke, or chew and I don’t date girls who do.”
Do away with the “what if I am wrong, at least I am holier-than-thou and did all the things” argument. That is legalism. That is doubt. That is not wisdom. Faith does not make accommodations for doubt and clean living does not hedge the believer’s bet.
Faith does not make accommodations for doubt and clean living does not hedge the believer’s bet.
If you are wrong…
If there is no resurrection, If Easter is just the early Christians’ adaptation of an ages-old Pagan Spring tradition of life coming out of death, if Jesus died and his flesh rotted in the tomb, returned to dust, and left nothing more behind than another religion for people to obsess over from cradle to grave, then…
- This is all there is.
- The meaning of life is drastically altered — if it has any meaning at all.
- RIght and wrong are relative and open to interpretation.
- Abortion is a good idea. Why not? The mother obviously doesn’t want a baby. Say no more! It’s just about choosing the high life.
- How is the human life any more important than a rat’s? Just being at the top of the food chain does not give you sanctity of life.
- Monogamy is overrated.
- Modesty? Ha! Who cares. Indulge. The. Flesh!
- Moderation? Not when it feels so good to get high. The rush! That is the thing.
- Sacrifice? For what? For my kids, my friends, my family, the community? Why? So they can benefit from it and probably not recognize or remember it? Or, so I make an example and they, in turn, sacrifice…and then their kids…and their kids…for what? Who gets to enjoy the benefit of all this sacrifice for the greater good if this is all there is? What is greater? What is good?
Look, I am not saying there is no point in making selfless decisions. I am not saying that a person without Christ cannot make any difference in THIS world.
I AM saying this: Christianity without the Resurrection is a farce, an exercise in futility, and fool’s gold. I am saying that a Jesus still in the grave is a delusional sociopath, encouraging men and women to make life-changing — and for many of his followers, life-ending — decisions. If Jesus died and stayed that way, He is at best Ghandi and at worst Jim Jones or David Koresh.
Don’t you see? There is no way to doubt the Resurrection and validate Jesus.
If you are wrong, you are wasting your time.
If you are wrong, you are propagating the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on humanity.
If you are wrong (Paul’s words, not mine), you are pitiful.
You are not wrong to believe He lives.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NLT)
Because He lives, life matters. Because He lives, faith, hope, and love are the silent sentinels guarding the satisfied soul..
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:12-17 (ESV)
…and the greatest of these is love.