Hard Choices

“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).

I have no desire to be an alarmist. In fact, I am convinced that a continuing sense of alarm (just of itself) is useless. I certainly am not against sober thinking or recognizing real dangers. However, spending life focusing our physical existence on “what if” as the latest thunderhead appears on our horizon commonly wastes time and misses opportunity. Life is not to be wasted, nor is it to be spent in a continuing state of alarm.

The issue is not, “How can we keep the worst from happening?” The issue is, “Are we devoted to godly existence regardless of what happens?” In the western world, things were deteriorating in the first century. Things did not suddenly get better because Christianity became a part of the physical scene. In fact, many Christians suffered as the western world continued to deteriorate.

Christianity was not a “fix” to cure the consequences of many bad decisions. Christianity was a way to see physical existence through the Creator’s eyes. Because of God’s act, the hopelessness of physical life was not humanity’s only option, and physical death was no longer the ultimate enemy of human existence. The human decisions of the godless could not destroy the eternal options of those in Jesus Christ.

For decades, Christians in this country seemingly had the option (1) in numerous ways to live the lifestyle of the godless and (2) to do so while devoting themselves to traditional expressions of Christian existence. We were prosperous enough to do both. We did so convinced that God protected us from the physically undesirable and prospered those who espoused His values. We did so even though our Savior was crucified, apostles like James and Paul were killed, and numerous early Christians were killed.

What will happen if there is a severe recession in this country? What if businesses fail in unbelievable numbers, and our homes continue to decline in value? What if the job market continues to decline? What if the entire world enters a recession? What if there is massive starvation worldwide?

Believe it or not, Paul understood 2000 years ago that there is an issue more important than any reflected in those questions. He even said that to believe in resurrection if there is none is simply pitiful. He knew godliness was real only if Jesus was resurrected by God.

Resurrection exists for us only if Jesus was resurrected. Life after death exists only if Jesus is the Christ through God raising him from death. Godliness has power only if Jesus is alive. Christianity is worthy of a life investment only if Jesus is enthroned. Eternal mercy, grace, and forgiveness are genuine only if God made Jesus the Christ.

The hard choice: will we invest our lives in Jesus regardless of what happens in our world? Will we be a godly people even if our world enters another period of chaos?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 12 June 2008


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