A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
Welcome to the Advent Collective Day 18. Our Bible passage today is 1 Corinthians 15 vs19-28.
I’d like us to look specifically at verses 19-22, and I’m going to read these now from The Message translation:
“If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.”
My daughter loves a good story. One of the series she enjoys is the Disney ‘Twisted Tales’ books. They are all based on the same premise……..what if the story was different?
What if Aladdin never found the magic lamp?
What if Sleeping Beauty didn’t wake up when the prince kissed her?
What if Cinderella hadn’t had the chance to try on the glass slipper?
As the ‘what if’ becomes a reality, obviously the story changes, and so does the ending. Not all the twisted tales see people living happily ever after.
In Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians we see Paul facing a similar ‘what if’ scenario. What if there is no resurrection of the dead?
This was a question that some people in Corinth had begun to ask, and indeed believed to be true.
We don’t know the exact arguments that Paul is refuting in this chapter, but when it comes to concerns about the validity of Jesus’ resurrection, it is clear that Paul has no questions or what ifs. He is absolutely certain that Christ died, was buried, and was then raised to life again; and he is convinced that this belief is fundamental to the Gospel. Without it, there is no Christianity – there would be no story at all.
Paul goes on to say that if we let the ‘what ifs’ become rooted in our hearts and minds, then this not only changes the story of the Gospel, it changes our story as well. If Christ was not raised from the dead first, then we have no hope of being raised to eternal life after our deaths either. The ending of our story would be completely altered – and not for the better.
In verse 21 Paul writes, “Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.”
Because of Adam’s sin, the story that God planned for humanity was fundamentally changed. It became a story marked by death – not just physical death, but spiritual death. The story changed from one where everything was very good; to one that was filled with violence, suffering, selfishness and greed.
Jesus came to change that story.
If we say yes to Jesus, and seek forgiveness for our sins through his death on the cross, we are able to know and experience the abundant, richer, fuller life that God always planned for us. In Christ we are able to come alive in the present. And then through Jesus’ resurrection we have the hope of a future where we will live forever in the presence of God, in a place with no more death or mourning, crying or pain. This is the perfect ending that Paul refers to in verse 28.
Advent is a season when we remember this story. A story that tells us we are forgiven for the past, can experience life as God intended in the present; and have the hope of eternal life in the future.
It is a great story………but is it the one that we tell?
That’s the question that Paul is asking through his hard hitting comment in verse 19:
“If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.”
That’s a powerful challenge.
It makes us ask ‘What does Christ actually mean to me?’
Does our story reflect the one that Paul has just explained and unpacked in these verses from 1 Corinthians 15……or have we let the ‘what ifs’ of the world, our culture, and those around us water down and change the story of God in our lives?
Have we made Jesus just a person who shared some inspirational teaching that we try to live by for the few short years we are on this earth?
Perhaps we have reduced him to being some sort of inspirational pick-me-up that we turn to when we are feeling a bit down or low?
Or is Christ the person with the power and authority to change our story from the past, into the present, and for the future?
As we approach the end of Advent, let’s reflect on that question.
Because our theme this year is not ‘A Little inspiration for Christmas; our theme is ‘Hope for the City’ – is this the story that we tell?
In a time of reflection and quiet now, there are 2 things that I think it would be great to pray about.
Firstly, bring to God any of the ‘what ifs,’ the questions or the difficulties that you are facing right now. Ask God to fill you with his peace, so that these things don’t begin to alter or change your relationship with Jesus, or the story of your faith.
Secondly, ask God to remind you again of the story you have to tell about what Jesus means to you.