Why Jesus is My Hero #23 of 52
Living wholeheartedly as a Christian is hard. The world is constantly bombarding you with messages about what’s important, what you should value. A lot of it is about status and where we find our significance: you need to be working for a well-known and respected company doing a high-paid and important job; you need to wear the right brands and use the right phone; you need to have been to an exclusive university; you need to take your holidays in luxurious locations and fly on the right airline; you need to marry well to someone smokin’ hot who also has a great job and wears the trendiest clothes.
Living wholeheartedly as a Christian often means the opposite of all those things – not that any of them are necessarily wrong in their own right – but we know that they’re not the be-all and end-all, they’re not where we ultimately derive our significance. Being a Christian might mean we want to be able to give as much of our money as possible to gospel ministry, so we might fly on the second best airline and watch slightly crummier in-flight movies and have slightly less leg room; it might mean we settle for second hand technology off E-Bay rather than having the momentary thrill of paying over-the-odds for the brand new equivalent; it might mean we stay in a lower-ranking job that means we’ll have more stable hours that ensure we can get involved in midweek church commitments; it might mean we’re willing to stay single in order to have more time and attention for gospel work, or that we treasure godliness in our spouses more highly than their Gucci handbag. It may not mean any of those things, but sooner or later it is bound to bring you into conflict with the world’s values, and require you to be willing to be thought a fool by those around you. Every time you speak openly of the gospel with those who do not follow Christ you risk being written off as crazy or outdated.
That’s why the resurrection of Jesus is such an important bedrock for living the Christian life. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15:19:
“If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied”
If I’ve given up status in the world’s eyes all my life, only to find out that there is no life after death, then I’ve been an idiot – I’ve missed out on all these great opportunities for no reason at all. Pity me. But, continues Paul,
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Christ’s resurrection from the dead was the “firstfruits” of what was to come, says Paul. Because he was raised, Christians can be confident that they will be raised also. There is a resurrection to come, a New Creation in which all those little sacrifices for the gospel will pale into insignificance. It will all be proved worth it because of that glorious future that awaits us.
It’s no wonder then, that Paul concludes the chapter with these words:
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”
It takes real guts to defy the value system of the world and die to self every day. It takes real courage to stand up for the gospel in a world that thinks it foolish and weak. Living wholeheartedly as a Christian is hard. But if Christ was raised, then it is utterly worth it. Be strong. Be immovable. Be always abounding in the work of the Lord – it is not in vain!