Summary: At the core of the abundant life is the knowledge that there is life after death and that we are now living our eternal lives.
1 Corinthians 15:35-49 “I Believe in the Resurrection and Eternal Life”
We are surrounded by death. Death is highlighted in the evening news, with announcements of the latest war casualties and comments about recent shootings in the Valley. We are touched by death when a family pet dies and we struggle to answer our children’s endless litany of questions. Of course, grandpa’s and grandma’s failing health casts the shadow of death on our daily lives, too.
Death is a big part of life. Because of this, how we view death affects how we live life. This is true not only when we come face to face with death; as we struggle with the loss of a family member or friend, but also go about our daily activities.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO LIFE
The way that we view and deal with death causes each of us has a different approach to life.
In my training as a member of the National Ski Patrol, I discovered that there is a condition called, YMIS, or Young Men’s Immortality Syndrome. Young men know about death, but they convince themselves that it will never happen to them. This condition explains why young men do some very daring, dangerous, and foolish things. This condition also explains why accidents are the leading cause of death in young men.
Some people attempt to isolate themselves in safe and secure surroundings in order to avoid or conquer death. They may avoid crowds, traffic, tall buildings, planes, and anything else they perceive as a risk. These people effectively allow their fear of death to imprison them and rob them of life.
Another way of dealing with death originated in ancient Greece with the Epicureans. Their philosophy was summed up in the words, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” The Epicureans were experience and pleasure addicts. This philosophy is the most prevalent way of dealing with death in the United States. Materialism and consumerism are today’s anesthetics for the pain of death’s reality.
Christians take a boldly different approach to life. Convinced that physical death is not the end of life but the beginning, we live our lives in obedience to God and in service to others.
THE EMPTY TOMB
The empty tomb of Jesus is at the center of the gospel message. Jesus not only died for our sins, he also rose from the grave as victor over death. We know that because Jesus lives, we shall live also. As Jesus says in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Christians believe that there is life after death. We do not need to deny, fear, or ignore death. Instead Christians are able to accept death as a part of life. Death will never separate us from God, and according to Paul in these verses of his Corinthian letter, the new life that we will experience is better beyond our imagination.
Our lives are different today, because we believe that as Christians we have eternal life. Our eternal lives begin at our baptism, or when we received the gift of forgiveness and salvation from God.
As eternal beings, we live in a relationship with the God of all creation. This relationship will never end.
As eternal beings who are not afraid of death and who no longer live in fear of God’s wrath, we are freed to live our lives in service to others rather than blatant materialism and consumerism.
As eternal beings, we live with God’s presence in us. The Holy Spirit not only guides and directs us, but also empowers us for service, and enables us to live an abundant life.
Paul concludes his comments on death to the Corinthians by declaring that death has lost its sting.
Christians no longer focus on death. Instead we focus on life. This makes all the difference in the world.