Summary: Hope is why we persevere in a long obedience in the same direction.
Text: I Corinthians 15:50-58
Thesis: Hope is why we persevere in a long obedience in the same direction.
Explanation: In 1980 IVP published Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.” Thirty-five years ago Peterson had picked up on a cultural trend toward our being an instant society people. We like to get where we are going. We want to go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. We even have shortcuts on our computers so we can with a “click” on the mouse go directly to the file or program we want.
The idea of going from entry level to CEO in one step is unheard of. In a trade or profession individuals served Apprenticeships which were like on-the-job training. Having completed one’s Apprenticeship the person became a Journeyman where he became fully educated and worked to perfect his trade. Eventually other Masters of a trade recognized their knowledge and skills and elected them to the level of Master Craftsman. And then as a Master Craftsman a person lived out his life continuing to master his craft to ever increasing mastery.
Impatience does not do for anyone wishing to become a Master. Diligence does. If we be Apprentices and Journeymen and Masters in following Jesus Christ we understand that we are in it for the long haul, so to speak. We do not simply sign on as followers of Jesus and step up to Heaven’s Gate where we are swept into a life of everlasting bliss.
So as followers of Jesus, we understand that the Christian life is a long obedience in the same direction in which we not only learn information and knowledge but the skills of Christ-like living, service to God and others.
If you have driven across the country, you are aware that the landscape varies from state to state and even within a given state. I often hear comments about how boring it is to drive through certain parts of our country. So you might identify with this analogy.
We’ve been known to make the run from Denver to Chicago or St. Paul a few times in the last 15 years. The most horrible leg of the journey for me is between here and Ft. Morgan. I hate it… I’m not alone. I notice other travelers. Some are watching movies on video players or I-Pads or listening to their I-Pods. Others are reading. Some are napping. All are oblivious to the landscape around them. All are asking, “Are we there yet?”
On their way to the Grand Canyon they pass through Kansas, eastern Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona occupying themselves in any way they can just to get through all the barrenness on their way to the Grand Canyon.
.The journey across the country is something we endure in order to get where we are going.
Our text reminds us that while there is a destination in mind… our journey is important as well.
In fact, we would be wise to note that the Bible has a lot more to say about how we live during our journey than about our ultimate destination. (Philip Yancey, "On the Grand Canyon Bus," Christianity Today (September 2008), p. 102)
Our text begins with an ethereal sense of our eternal and heavenly hope.
I. There is the not yet but will be of the then and there, I Corinthians 15:50-57
First there is the “Not yet.”
A. Not yet, I Corinthians 15:50
“What I am saying is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.” I Corinthians 15:50 (I Corinthians 15:44 re natural and spiritual bodies)
In other words, we aren’t there yet because we still have our earthly bodies…
But one day we will… that’s what will be.
B. Will be, I Corinthians 15:51-53
“For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies… bodies that will never die.” I Corinthians 15:51-53 (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Our hope is for the return of Jesus and the transformation of our mortal bodies into immortal bodies in anticipation of life everlasting.
It is good to know where you are going! In January 2000, leaders of Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." So he agreed.
After wonderful things were said about him, Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time Magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of each passenger. When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his other pocket. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat by him. He couldn't find it. The conductor said, 'Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it.' Einstein nodded appreciatively.