As Paul the Apostle makes his case for Christ’s resurrection in I Cor. 15 he formulates several types of arguments.
- Historical fact (vv. 1-11)
- Logical inconsistency of those who argue against it (vv. 12-19)
- Theological necessity of resurrection (vv. 20-28)
- Practical Ramifications (vv. 29-34)
It is the practical ramifications of the resurrection that have arrested my attention. Paul states, “If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? Why are we in danger every hour? I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”
For lack of space and time I will pass over explaining “baptism for the dead.” Rather I want to look at the ideas of safety and pleasure. If Christ is not risen, that means that this life is all there really is. If this is all there really is, why would I ever put myself in any kind of danger for the cause of Christ? Why would I risk my reputation in this earthly life to pursue that which is of true eternal value? Why wouldn’t I just pursue what I enjoy, because I won’t be able to enjoy it forever, will I?
The fact is, Christ is risen. Because I am in Christ, I must live in light of the eternal life procured for me through Christ’s resurrection. What does this look like?
1. If “safety” in this life is my highest goal, then I am practically denying the resurrection. I admit that I haven’t faced physical danger as stated in this passage. I trust in the sufficiency of God’s grace should that come. However, I often seek the safety of peer approval rather than give myself over to following Christ in a radical way. Simply put, I regularly find my hope in the safety of this life, rather than in the promised life to come.
2. If pleasure in this life marks my life, then I am practically denying the resurrection. God has given us much to enjoy in this life, but these enjoyments cannot be that which drives me, especially if I am willing to pursue these pleasures at the expense of God’s larger, eternal plans.
If I surround myself with “resurrection deniers” than I will certainly fall into the trap of pursuing safety and pleasure. This is what Paul means by “bad company ruins good morals.” May God grant me and other believers a morality in life empowered by the cross and directed by the resurrection. This means the greatest mark of Christian “morality” isn’t a contest of behavioral standards as defined by man, but rather a life that is governed by the hope of the resurrection: a life that finds true safety and pleasure in Christ.
I found the video below to be an enjoyable yet convicting conversation on the folly of pursuing what is “safe.”