If the Resurrection Isn’t True, At Least I’ve Lived a Good Life…

I want to spend a few days in 1 Corinthians 15 because I think this chapter is so important. This chapter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the single most important and meaningful event in history…well, the Cowboys winning a Superbowl is pretty close but even I have to admit, not as meaningful. Anyway, when I was a young man, many, many years ago…I remember telling someone that I was talking to about the gospel that even if the resurrection wasn’t true, even if it was a lie, at least I would have, as a follower of Jesus, lived a life of loving my neighbor and being good to other people. I encouraged the person I was talking with to have the same opinion…to follow the teachings of Jesus. I guess I thought I was being clever. Sort of a “well, even if Jesus isn’t who Jesus claimed to be, I would have lived a good life and if you don’t follow the teachings of Jesus you won’t have lived such a good life.”…something like that. And then I read 1 Corinthians 15 and this section: 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

From a theological viewpoint Paul is clear that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then there has been no atonement for sin and we are all still in our sins. I get that. But it’s the last verse that’s so intriguing to me: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Really, the “most pitiable”? But if we’ve loved others and followed the teachings of Jesus and find out in the end that the Jesus story was a “lie” wouldn’t the good deeds count for something? Wouldn’t a life lived on the principles and teaching of Jesus be better than a life not lived that way, even if Jesus wasn’t really who He claimed to be? Apparently not. But why? I think it’s because if Jesus didn’t rise then we’ve been living a lie. And we’ve been preaching a lie. And apparently the reality of eternal life is more important to Paul than the reality of a “good life” lived here on earth. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and its validity is the most important thing in life…to empower this life and to guarantee the next one.


Leave a Reply