“Common sense is not so common,” according to Voltaire. While this was said a long time ago, the message is still true today. We look at some of the things that people do and end up scratching our heads, wondering how something like that could happen if people had any intelligence. One of the things that drives me completely buggy is when people are on oxygen for a chronic breathing issue like emphysema, or even cancer, sitting outside the hospital so they can have a cigarette. Every fiber of my being wants to grab that cigarette out of their mouth and remind them, loudly, that those cigarettes are one of the reasons they’re in this predicament.
People don’t always make sense, and you can probably come up with your own examples of things we do that are completely contradictory. For example, why do we go to the doctor and then ignore what he/she says? As complex as life is, we’re all bound to have a few contradictions in our life. The Corinthian Church was rife with them and Paul spent a lot of time in his letters trying to help them see how crazy some of the things they said and did were if they professed to believe in Jesus. Perhaps the craziest were the people who claimed to be Christians and yet didn’t believe in the resurrection – either for believers at the end of time or for Christ just a short time earlier. Paul laid down some common sense to deal with that. “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17)
As you read through this section of the letter, Paul makes it clear that the cornerstone of our faith is that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. There may be some negotiable aspects of our faith but the belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus is non-negotiable, as is the belief that we will be with Him in heaven after we die. Paul says that claiming to be a Christian without believing in the resurrection of the dead – Christ’s and our eventual resurrection, makes faith futile. We’re still lost in our sins. He puts in bluntly in the letter that if the resurrection of the dead isn’t truth, then we are false witnesses about God. He was astounded that the Corinthians had tried to intellectualize their faith and spiritualize the truth of the resurrection.
I’ve heard many people who claim to be Christians do the same thing. Since resurrection couldn’t be possible, then we have to make sure and understand what faith means in our world today, according to them. All I can do is shake my head and state the same thing that Paul said, “If the resurrection is false, my faith is in vain. If the resurrection is false, then we are, of all men, most to be pitied for believing and following this crazy religion.” Our faith begins with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Without His resurrection, His crucifixion was just another execution by Rome and there were countless executions. Our faith hinges on the resurrection because if Jesus truly was raised from the dead, as the firstfruits, meaning that others would follow, that changes history. How can you say and believe that Jesus rose from the dead, that He conquered death and not be changed by that? The death and resurrection of Jesus is either the most amazing, life changing event in the history of this world, or the biggest lie perpetrated on mankind. We can’t intellectually assent to belief in the resurrection and not let it change our lives! If we believe in a God who has conquered death, the last enemy, how can we do anything other than commit our lives to following Him? The resurrection is the defining event in human history. Either you believe in it and worship God with all your heart or you don’t, and death is the end.
O Lord. You ARE risen from the dead. I place my life in Your hands. Change me to live for You in all I do.