Summary: The church was designed to be an irresistible community. Yet people are not always drawn to it. How can we change that?
5. An Irresistible Community: 1 Corinthians
April 04, 2010
At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.
Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.” The room fell silent. Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim. After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride. Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions. Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requirements for people to be acceptable to him and in Islam God is a God of Judgment not a God of love. You live to appease him. At the end of the discussion everyone concluded Lewis had a point. Only Christianity dares to proclaim God’s love is unconditional. An unconditional love that we call grace. Give to us through Jesus sacrifice on the cross.
1Co 15:13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 1Co 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 1Co 15:15 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. 1Co 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 1Co 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1Co 15:18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 1Co 15:19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1Co 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1Co 15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
If all Jesus did was go to the cross then worshiping Him is worthless. There is no life in the death of Jesus alone. If Christ is not raised your faith means nothing. If Christ is not raised you are still trapped in slavery to your sins. If Christ is not raised there is no life after death. If Christ is not raised then Christians are to be pitied more than all men. If Jesus is not raised then Christians are just a sad group of people who have devoted their lives to a lie. We are to be pitied above all because our hope is in something that cannot save us. Without the resurrection we have no life, no hope, no meaning, no purpose: this life is all there is. If Jesus did not raise, then death is the end, there is no life. To deny the resurrection is to destroy any motivation for ethical behavior within the church. It is perfectly understandable to put one’s self in danger, to live selflessly, and to make sacrifices if there is hope of resurrection. If there is no resurrection, then there is no reason to live like this.
This morning I have good news for you: Jesus is alive. Christ did rise from the dead. Since Christ rose from the dead we have life through Him. Death entered the world through Adam. Through the sin of Adam mankind became sinful. Jesus serves as an anti-Adam. He is the anti-biotic to the sin problem that Adam created. Adam brought death to all of his children, Jesus brought life to all His people. Death came through one man. Life came through another. Jesus is alive and so through Him we may also have life. Through Jesus we ourselves may obtain a resurrection from the dead where we will dwell with Him in paradise forever. Jesus resurrection means life for all who follow after Him.