The Standard January 22, 2020
You might have seen the AT&T commercials. A man lying on a hospital bed asks the nurse what she thinks of Dr. Francis. She says he’s ok. The surgeon comes in and says he has just been reinstated. Well, not officially. A mother and son are getting buckled in for the carnival ride. She asks if it is safe. The carny says he assembled it himself last night and thinks he did an ok job. A skydiving instructor tells a nervous first timer who is about to jump out of the airplane that he is perfectly ok at his job. The slogan for the advertising campaign is “just ok is not ok.” Especially when it comes to our safety, we would like a ringing endorsement of the person who could have our life in their hands.
You might have heard someone say, in an attempt to persuade an unbeliever to try out faith in God, that even if the gospel turned out to be false they would not have lost anything by living the Christian lifestyle. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The Apostle Paul had an entirely different approach. He preached and wrote about the certainty of the death and resurrection of Jesus and forgiveness of sins through grace by faith. In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he addressed the fact of bodily resurrection since the Greeks and Jews of that day held a variety of beliefs regarding it.
“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrections of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 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. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15: 12-19) Verses 19-20a in The Message say, “If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up.”
Without Christ’s physical resurrection, our faith would be mere delusion and we would be lost in sin and the most pitiful of all people. Without the promise of eternal life Paul and his contemporaries might as well have lived by the “eat and drink for tomorrow we die” motto. Instead, he gave up a life of comfort and self-indulgence because he believed that the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice and its effects were more than just ok. “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-28) “
We likely never will encounter the suffering for our faith which Paul did, yet we know that God’s power and equipping make us more than just ok for what we will face in this life and ready for what is to come in the next.