Summary: Your labor is not in vain. The resurrection promises and God's mercy motivate you to work for him with courage and passion.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
A month and a half ago a parent of one of our former Lakeside students sent out an email requesting a prayer for her son, and I happened to be on the email list. Her son was about to go through the “crucible.” Has anyone here ever heard of the “crucible”? It’s part of the training that a US Marine goes through. It’s considered the final test where the Marine recruit is pushed to the limits. 54 straight hours, where combat is simulated, marching takes place day and night, there is hardly any food or sleep – everything about you is tested. The Marines call it the “crucible” because a “crucible” is a container that can stand intense heat, and objects are placed into crucibles in laboratories to see what will happen to them under certain conditions. For 54 hours the Marine recruit is placed into the crucible to see if he can take the heat. If he can, he then earns the title of “Marine.” I haven’t heard back yet from the Lakeside mom to see if her son survived the crucible.
Sometimes, ministry in a school setting can feel like you are being placed into a crucible. When you are living your life as a Christian, or even more, when you are serving others as a called worker, you can be pushed to the limits, physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. It can be very rewarding serving others, and yet, very exhausting at the same time. What exactly is the job description of a WELS teacher? There is so much expected of you, above and beyond the simple act of teaching a math equation or a point of grammar. If you think about it, you can summarize the job of a WELS teacher with one word – do you know what that word would be? What are you called to do? You are called to… LOVE. To love the students God has placed into your classrooms. To love their parents. To love your colleagues on the faculty. To love the members of the school board that oversee you. To love the congregation, or federation of congregations, that you are affiliated with. And ultimately, you are called to love God.
Isn’t that why you are here this morning? If we love our students, we will all want to get better as teachers. We will want to know and understand what the secular world considers to be the standards for education. We will want to learn from them, and how those standards apply to our already high standards as Christian teachers. All of this flows out of love. And love can be a very hard thing to do sometimes, in a school setting.
This Bible passage we are focusing on this morning was written for Christians who are in the crucible. Christians who are being tested. Christians who are being pushed. Christians who want to serve, but sometimes get tired. 1 Corinthians 15:58 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, because it is filled with so much encouragement and hope and motivation, no matter what your circumstances might be. It is my hope and prayer that as we study this passage together this morning, you also will find these words of God to be helpful to you as you seek to serve the Lord. May we always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Do you know why this passage is so often glossed over or forgotten? It’s because of where it’s located in the Bible– it’s the last verse in one of the greatest of all the chapters in the Bible - 1 Corinthians 15. Our verse starts with the word “Therefore.” “Therefore, my dear brothers.” Therefore is like an arrow pointing backwards - based on everything we have just talked about, you can stand firm. Remember what this chapter of the Bible talks about? It’s the famous resurrection chapter, packed with three major Christian doctrines. Doctrine number one – Jesus Christ physically rose from the dead, proving that his sacrifice paid for your sins and for the sins of the world. Doctrine number two – On Judgment Day, everyone is going to rise from the dead – your dead relatives, my dead relatives – and each one of us here today who has died before Judgment Day – all of us will rise from the dead – there is an afterlife, there is something coming that is bigger and better than the life we have right now. That’s doctrine number two. And doctrine number 3 – every Christian – every one of you, and me – we all someday be given a glorified body and live together with God forever. These three major doctrines are true and real, just as true and real as the chair you’re sitting on, or the person you’re sitting next to.