I grew up in an ideal town. In fact, my neighborhood was called Idlewild.
As a child and teenager, it seemed more idle than wild, but we made the best of it.
The town of seventy thousand seemed big enough to offer everything I was interested in until, as a preteen, I made my first few trips to Dallas and discovered the big city, ice skating, and big sports.
Growing up, our town had one building that might qualify as a small “skyscraper,” but downtown Dallas seemed to have an endless number.
Yesterday, while talking with the generation behind me, I realized several things.
One was my age.
The other was how small the world is in their minds.
The world is a neighborhood
My parents thought anyone who traveled to Europe was elite and rare. Now, most of their eight children have been to Europe and at least as far as Israel. I took my first ride on an airplane when I was ten. My three-year-old granddaughter has been on multiple planes.
For several reasons, the next generation of millennials sees the world as a neighborhood and airplanes as taxis. However, I remember my pastor once said forty years ago, “Technology has made the world a neighborhood but only Christ can make it a brotherhood.”
Daily headlines prove his point.
My point is this: choices and truth matter. Place and perspective matter. What happens anywhere can have lasting effects everywhere, even for all time.
That’s certainly true of the gospel.
Paul at Corinth
What happened on that “hill far away” two thousand years ago matters more than everything else.
That’s what Paul was led to say to the Corinthians, both to those who believed and those who didn’t yet believe. Both were gathering together at Corinth. Things moved slower in ancient times, but, after a decade or two, the reports of Jesus and his resurrection had made it to this urban, cultural city.
Everything good, bad, ugly, and in between could be found in Corinth when Paul the missionary of Christ strode into town. After establishing the first Christian church there, Paul would spend substantial time working with the Holy Spirit and the people to help them grasp and live their new life of faith.
The resurrection was at the core of all Paul said and did. There is a reason why 1 Corinthians 15 is the large capstone to a letter that deals with many diverse faith and life questions.
Part of the conversation about resurrection caught my attention.
Because of resurrection
The Spirit declared that the resurrection of Jesus was real and, therefore, the resurrection of his followers is and will be real too. Because resurrection is a real and coming reality, our relationships matter. The essence of life is relationship with God and with people. We must invest in these relationships because they matter now and will always matter for eternity.
Solomon said that God put eternity in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and resurrection makes it achievable. Loving others and being loved is the best of all things. If there is no resurrection, the heartbeat of love stops. Without resurrection and eternity, relationships become shallow, transactional, and utilitarian: “What can you do for me while I’m here?”
Because of resurrection, serving, sacrificing, and suffering for God’s purposes matter. Most who read this are ministry leaders, either vocationally, bivocationally, or voluntarily. It takes only a few minutes of involvement to learn that ministry—serving God by serving others—is a “splendid misery” or a “miserable splendor.”
Which of those two words describe your view of ministry today?
What matters most
We believe that life and eternity hang in the balance of the decision to believe. That is big.
We need God’s help to understand our role in conveying the gospel of Jesus to our generation, starting with those closest to us.
I, for one, seem always to be teetering on overplaying or underplaying my place in this commission. No one’s salvation depends on me or you, but our witness and work with Christ and his church are critically important because we have been entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:11–21).
Last, morality or holiness matters because of resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 15:32–33. If this world and life are all there is, then boundaries are in most ways meaningless. If there is no God, then there is no lasting definition of what’s true or good. Without God, there is no transcendent accountability. Without God and the resurrection, “my truth” really is “my truth” and the only truth likely to matter to me. Without resurrection and the authority of God, we become our own authority and can live it up however we choose.
His resurrection is real and so is ours.
The resurrection gives clarity, shape, and definition to everything.
Our love, our service and witness, and our choices matter now and in eternity.
So choose prayerfully, scripturally, and joyfully.