If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most pitied. 1 Corinthians 15: 19
When reading the book of 1 Corinthians, you can see that challenges in the early church were not much different than we have today. Sin and confusion distracts from the true purpose of the church, which is to spread the good news (the gospel) and to make disciples. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church because he was informed of these challenges, and wanted to encourage them to walk in the true purpose of the church, which is to bring attention to Jesus and the hope we have in him alone. Some of the problems Paul addressed were divisions, improper physical relationships, not acting in love, factions of belief within the body of believers, and false teaching concerning the resurrection. Today, just as then, anything in the church which does anything less than glorify God and make much of Jesus misses the mark. That mark is the gospel and the hope we have in Jesus alone and his power to save. So how do we overcome the challenges the church faces because of sin?
If…. IN CHRIST WE HAVE HOPE:
When you take the IF out of the equation, you can see what we have. HOPE IN CHRIST!!! There are people today that look at the church with a critical view because of the issues a particular church body may have. I’m sure one could find something in every church of which to be critical; but remember if you are looking for a perfect church body on this side of heaven, you will never find it. Also, (I hope I say this without sounding judgmental), I do not believe everyone in a church building who calls themselves a Christian has truly experienced salvation. Jesus said these words in Matthew 7:21 (ESV) Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Matthew 25 is a whole chapter in which Jesus taught using parallels, showing examples of those who know him and those who do not. If you base your decisions of the church upon people, then you are not looking to the true hope…. Jesus.
The true church is not a group of perfect people, but forgiven people who have put their trust, faith and hope in one who is perfect- Jesus. This I do know; the more you grow in Christ, the more you will look to Jesus, and the more you will love people as Christ does. Jesus needs to be your focus and the hope in which you live. Salvation is in Him alone; why would we want to focus on anyone else?
This life only:
One who looks and lives based on this life only tends to be focused only on themselves. To say there is no resurrection, as the whole verse above is addressing, is to deny the hope we have in Christ. This, to me, seems a very sad outlook to life. You live and then you die… that’s it…. nothing else. You would be just a blip in time and then soon forgotten. Having hope in Jesus means eternal life and to have it abundantly… more than you will ever use up. You will never die!!!! Again, when the focus of your life is all about Jesus and less about the imperfections around, then you will live a changed life. I often think of the hymn that we sing in church, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” Our hope is not just in this life but the resurrection and eternal life in Christ alone.
People most pitied:
This small segment of the verse, “People most pitied” is referring to anyone who doesn’t believe in the resurrection. To believe in no resurrection is to believe that you will not encounter a face to face meeting with God, when life as we know it in the physical, ends. Pitied because unless repentance happens before physical death, hope is gone. To teach there is no resurrection is to teach Jesus lied and was not the Son of God. In essence, to deny Jesus.
In short, FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS ON JESUS! This will take care of many challenges that you may see or may experience in the church, and, if you are not careful….create. When Jesus is your focus, you will be gospel minded. You will place more importance on sharing the hope you have in Him alone and not on the things that will pass away and have no eternal value. Our hope is, and always will be, in Christ alone.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David