An article I wrote awhile back, “Going All-In”, posted this morning to SBC Voices. While preparing for the sermon this Sunday on The Good Purpose of God in Suffering I was struck by how suffering relates to setting our hope fully on the Lord. Reading through a section of Desiring God another picture of “going all-in” emerged. In reflecting upon 1 Corinthians 15:19, Piper says:
…Christianity as Paul understands it is not the best way to maximize pleasure if this life is all there is. Paul tells us the best way to maximize our pleasures in this life: “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die’” (1 Corinthians 15:32). He does not mean something as naive as sheer Epicureanism or debauchery. That is not the best way to maximize your pleasures, as anyone knows who has followed the path of alcoholism and gluttony. Drunks and gluttons are to be pitied just like Christians if there is no resurrection.
But what he does mean by the phrase, “Let us eat and drink” is that without the hope of the resurrection, one should pursue ordinary pleasures and avoid extraordinary suffering. This is the life Paul rejected as a Christian. Thus, if the dead are not raised, and if there is no God and no heaven, he would not have pummeled his body the way he did. He would not have turned down wages for his tent-making the way he did. He would not have walked into five whippings of 39 lashes. He would not have endured three beatings with rods. He would not have risked his life from robbers and deserts and rivers and cities and seas and angry mobs. He would not have accepted sleepless nights and cold and exposure. He would not have endured so long with backsliding and hypocritical Christians (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Instead he would have simply lived the good life of comfort and ease as a respectable Jew with the prerogatives of Roman citizenship.
When Paul says, “If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink,” he does not mean, “Let’s all become lechers.” He means, there is a normal, simple, comfortable, ordinary life of human delights that we may enjoy with no troubling thoughts of heaven or hell or sin or holiness or God — IF there is no resurrection from the dead. And what stunned me about this train of thought is that many professing Christians seem to aim at just this, and call it Christianity.
So if we get to the end and come to find out the Christianity is false and there is no resurrection of the dead, do you say with Paul, “what a waste”? Or is your model of Christianity such that it’s a means to a better life now?
That quote by Piper and the truth therein has me on my knees this morning as I ponder the good purpose of God and even the call of God to suffer.