“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV).
There are, and have always seemed to have been, those who think that the concept of a god is nice for establishing morals in society but it really serves no other purpose. There are some think that religion has outgrown its usefulness and is only a source of ignorance and intolerance. Today, there are a great number of people who believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher, but nothing more; and most certainly not a god nor the only real God.
Following the moral example of Jesus is indeed a good way to live—but is it enough? Paul says, that if our hope in Jesus is just for our morality here on earth, than we are to be pitied more than all men. If we think Jesus is nothing more than a moral teacher, then we are utilizing only a fraction of the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
The goal that God has made possible for mankind is not in trying to emulate the example of Jesus, it is in being filled with His Spirit so that, not only do we share His morality, but we know that it has eternal implications for all of humanity. Without the latter, Jesus’ moral teachings become easily misunderstood, perverted, or picked through in order to make Him more relevant to our culture or personal desires.
The result is the lack of real vision. And that lack of vision leads to division, confusion, and eventually intolerance for those who would dare to seek something bigger. If our hope in Jesus is only for what He can offer this life, than we have missed the entire point of our existence; and that is truly to be pitied.
Paul says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ.” This means that our hope in Jesus is not just for the next life. Just as it is possible to misunderstand Jesus and call Him nothing more than a moral teacher, it is also possible to misunderstand Jesus and think that His work is for anything but his world and this time. When we begin to act as if Jesus hates this world and looks forward to the day when He will destroy it, we, once again, miss the point; and perhaps we should be pitied as much our counterparts.
God created this world and said, “It is good.” God sent His Son into this world because He loved it (John 3:16). When we see God as only something that promises a life after death then we, once again, miss the fullness of God’s grace and truth. Today, God has called His people to seek holiness. “Be Holy as I am holy” says the Lord in numerous passages in both the Old and New Testament.
And yet there are so many “Christians” today who think that salvation is only about getting into heaven. But Christ came here, His word and His example reveal that we are to have hope in Him here and now. If we only hope for heaven, then we will become callous and indifferent to this world. We will become “Christians” who do not love God’s creation as He does, and as we were created to do.
The fullness of God’s grace is revealed in our lives today and in the hope of the promised future in His presence. It is not just for one and not the other. We are to love His creation so much, that we seek nothing more than to become like Christ so that we can better care for our fellow man and this earth we live upon today. The Christian should lead the way to open channels of communication.
The Christian should lead the way in taking care of our environment. The Christian should lead the way in caring for the sick and the poor. The Christian should lead the way in sharing the gospel of salvation to the world. The Christian should have hope in Christ for their life today and for an eternity in His loving presence.
It is not about life after, nor before, death; it is simply about life! Where do you stand?
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!