As we enter into Holy Week we should ask ourselves the question, “What does the Resurrection have to do with our work?”
Or, more appropriately, “What doesn’t the Resurrection have to do with our work?”
In anticipation of Easter, this week I have been reading 1 Corinthians 15. Apparently in the city of Corinth there had arisen some people who denied the resurrection, perhaps some even within the Corinthian church.
In this chapter, Paul address this heresy in no uncertain terms. To deny the resurrection of Jesus Christ is to destroy the entire basis of the Christian faith.
As John MacArthur writes,
The Christian faith is not based primarily on the teachings of Jesus. It is not based on the life of Jesus. It is not based upon the compassion of Jesus. It is not based upon the miracles of Jesus. It is not even based on the death of Jesus. The Christian faith is based on all of those things culminating in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And if you don’t have the resurrection, you have just destroyed all those other things.
The apostle Paul is telling us that Christ’s resurrection is the very cornerstone of the gospel. Without it nothing else matters.
But Paul does not stop there.
He goes on to explain that because Christ was raised from the dead, Christians have the great hope that we too will be raised from the dead at the end of this age. We will be given new resurrected bodies that are imperishable, in which we will live with Christ forever in the new earth.
At the end of this this incredible chapter on the resurrection, what does Paul say? “Since there is a resurrection, look forward to this glorious future?” No, he says something quite different: your work is “not in vain.”
I love NT Wright’s answer to this question and quote it in my book, How Then Should We Work. He says:
Because everything you do in the present, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, everything that flows out of love and hope and grace and goodness somehow will be part of God’s eventual Kingdom. That is the message of the resurrection. The resurrection is your new body in which you will be gloriously, truly wonderfully you. The resurrection means everything you’ve done in the present through your body—works of justice and mercy and love and hope—somehow in ways we don’t understand will be part of God’s new creation.
All of our work matters to God and has eternal consequences because of what happened on that first Easter.
Far too often we read “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” as the work we do in the church or our evangelism. But this is not what Scripture says.
Our labor here refers to all of work: what we do in our families, what we do in our churches, what we do in our communities, and especially what we do in our vocations.
Tim Keller sums all of this up when he writes in Every Good Endeavor,
Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught…Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.
Christ has risen, he has risen indeed!
And that makes all the difference.