The Apostle Paul makes a staggering conclusion about his life when he said, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).
I don’t think we can begin to discover all that means. At the very least, for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. Unlike all other realities that are singed with death and come with expiration dates, Paul came to experience a “living hope”. Peter puts it this way:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).
The purpose for which we have been born again is that we might have a living hope. This hope is accessed “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” and given to us by him who “caused us to be born again.” Inasmuch Christ is alive from the dead, so are we to know the lively nature of our confidence and settled assurance in the God who saves us. When we experience the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10-11), we are having our hearts thrilled in all that Christ is for us beyond the grave. Because Jesus is more than what this life can offer and better than what death can take later, we should treasure Him as the source of true, abiding, and everlasting hope.
Now pause for a moment and think about what it means to hope in this life only. People are hoping in this world for numerous things in various ways. People are hoping in change they believe the government can bring. They are hoping for a better job, nicer house, bigger retirement, more substantial gains in the stock market, etc. And yet, they are hoping in a system that is inherently flawed and broken. To hope in this life apart from Christ is to rest your heart’s desires in the quicksand of time. In Paul’s words, those who hope in this life only attempt to live their best life now by “eating and drinking” for “tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). Ultimately, all these hopes fade with a world that cannot deliver on its promises.
But the hope that comes in Jesus Christ can and always will deliver upon its promises because God has raised Jesus from the dead! This is the security of our hope and our source of satisfaction in Him. It is sheer foolishness to look forward in this life without looking backward to an empty tomb. As Christians, we have the privilege to live in such a manner that we make much of the resurrection, so that those who are hoping in this life only will not be able to interpret the commentary of our lives apart from the living hope we have received from Him.
Right here, right now there are people who are facing the expiration dates of their hopes. Their dream houses they hoped to enjoy are being foreclosed. Their jobs with great benefits are being terminated. Their retirement and savings they hoped to enjoy later have been depleted. If the world looks for a new way of living, a new and abiding hope, will they be able to find that in us who have been united with Christ in His resurrection?
I pray they will, and they will too look to Jesus who has given us hope for the journey that will never fade because we are experiencing the power of His resurrection.