A professor in seminary asked: If it were somehow proven that the resurrection was false; if they found Jesus’s bones and made a DNA match or Paul’s journal was discovered admitting the whole thing was a con; ignoring the obvious problems, including the fact that half of the country wouldn’t believe it depending on who said it, if it were proven that Jesus didn’t raise from the dead and ascend into Heaven, would you still be a Christian?
Then he quoted 1 Corinthians 15: “…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Sounds like something a con-artist would say.
The professor went on to say something like: If there is no resurrection then our good behavior is all in vain. We should all do whatever we want to enjoy life. Eat, drink and be merry. For tomorrow we die.
At the time I agreed with the sentiment. But I’ve done a 180.
For one, we’re not under the same persecution as the Corinthians. We enjoy freedom of religion that often borders national pride with cross for decoration, reciting creeds written under the direction of an emperor and singing God Bless America on national holidays. We are certainly not of all people most to be pitied.
Even if we were, heathenism isn’t the best way to enjoy life anyway. Just check out Axl Rose’s before and after shots. Modern Psychology, through the work of Martin Seligman, Positive Psychology, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, and many others has found that the most fulfilling lives are marked by stuff the Bible has been screaming for centuries.
Stuff like joy, meaningful work, relationships, a sense of purpose, and accomplishments. And what kind of life produces that stuff? A life of humility, generosity, gratitude, creativity, awareness of your emotions, forgiveness, hard work, pretty much the sermon on the mount.
So even if it were somehow proven to all be a hoax, I’m compelled by Jesus. I believe recklessly following his example makes us most to be envied, not pitied. Which is why I get so pissed at the Church for attacking their enemies, striking the other cheek, taxing the needy, defending abusers, and for protecting what’s theirs. It’s why I get really angry at preachers (and the aforementioned professor) who straw-man those who leave the Church into folks just looking for an excuse to sin.
Jesus’s own example was to walk away from the religious establishment. Why should it be any different for those trying to follow?
This letter is for those who believe that the life of Jesus really is worth following, that Christianity isn’t simply transactional, a get-out-of-hell-free card, that turning the other cheek isn’t about what you’d get in return, for those disillusioned and deconstructing. Go back and read the stories of Jesus.
Rediscover your first love.