And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
What would make our faith worthless? Today, Hollywood tells us that the important thing is to have faith, regardless of the object of such belief. Many Christians reject that empty kind of thinking out-of-hand, but, do we really distance ourselves far enough from it?
In the passage above, Paul makes a very clear statement that is worth our attention. If Christ is not alive, not raised from the dead, our faith is totally useless. That’s it. There are no ifs, ands, or buts. If Jesus is not alive, the game is over. We should, in fact, be pitied more than anyone else, if we are foolish enough to believe in a God-man who has been raised from the dead if indeed this is not true.
Now, here is the question: Christians, would you consider your faith to be totally worthless if Jesus is not alive? This actually gets to the heart of your faith. Would your faith fall apart were the whole Jesus thing not true?
Think about what we do with our faith. We sing praises. We feel good about doing so. We gather together in familial groups. We support each other. We socialize. We do good things in the world. Yet, if Jesus is not alive, these things are all worthless—all of them.
This tells us something important about our faith. The only way that our faith matters is if Jesus, the real man who lived on this earth 2,000 years ago, is physically alive right now. The only way that our faith has any value is if Jesus lived a perfect life, died as a sacrificial substitute who paid the penalty for the sins of God’s children, and then physically came back to life. Everything in Christianity, absolutely everything, hinges on the question of whether or not Jesus paid for our sins and then got up out of the grave to live forever.
So is your faith worthwhile or worthless? Let me take the question deeper. Assuming Jesus is alive, does this change your answer? Would your faith, the faith you live out, be worthless if Jesus were dead? If your faith would not be worthless to you were Jesus dead, your faith is not biblical Christianity, or at least not consistent, biblical Christianity.
So, Christians, for us, this passage calls us to remember the centrality of the resurrection. Our faith is an objective faith—a faith with an object. Our faith is that we have hope for eternity because, and only because, Jesus was sacrificed in our place for our sin and then rose from the dead. Without that object, nothing in our faith matters, not singing, not praying, not adopting, not giving, not caring, not fellowship, not discipleship, not anything. If Jesus is dead, nothing matters.
But, because Jesus is alive, we have hope. Because Jesus lives, we have meaning. Because Jesus is alive we worship, we praise, we give, we love, we adopt, we study, we evangelize, we go on mission, we love our neighbors. Because Jesus lives we have a reason to live. May we remember that our faith has life only because of the fact that Jesus lives.