I was in a meeting of about 25 to 30 people and when they found out that I was a pastor, as often happens, the subject turned to Jesus. It turned out that most of them were Christians.
As I listening carefully, something that I have been struggling to articulate suddenly became clear. When they talked about Jesus, they spoke of Him as if He was their great benefactor in their career success. They mentioned how He had blessed them and how what they were doing had been such a blessing to others. I got the feeling they were trying to tell me, the Pastor, that Jesus was important to them and that they had a relationship with Him.
What I heard from them I hear often from others. They were subtly communicating that Jesus’ greatest benefit is his present blessings. When they had the opportunity to tell me about Jesus in their life, they chose to tell me about what He was doing for them presently in their careers. There was no mention about the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, or even grace. At least not the grace that reigns through righteousness to eternal life.
The problem with misrepresenting Him in this way is that the great Apostle said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that if we have hope in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. The greatest thing Christ has done for us will not be realized in this life.
The context of the passage is the future hope that the resurrection of Jesus makes possible. Paul’s point in the verse is that if there is not a past resurrection of Jesus, then our hope in Jesus is only in this life. If this is so, then we are a pitiful people.
His argument is anchored in the implied truth that Jesus’ greatest benefit to us is in the, yet unrealized, hope of resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus inaugurated the age to come and signaled the passing away of this present evil age. Yet we speak of Jesus as if He has come to make our lives better in this present age.
Why don’t we talk more of the future hope that Jesus brings? Is it possible that we have lost hope in His return? Have we taken our eyes off of the prize and looked to make the most of now? Is Jesus simply the one who blesses in this life? If He is, then we are most to be pitied
Wonderful blog post! I go through life and have these type of conversations as well. I need to repent and begin to talk about the forgiveness of sins and the future blessing of eternal life. Thank you for always proclaiming the truth of God’s written word.
No doubt: witnessing of His saving grace is paramount. And to turn a modern phrase relative to the fervor and zeal the commission demands of us, we should do it “by any means necessary”! Yet, I am also reminded of another less spoken quote from likely more humble sources: “sometimes Christians are so heavenly minded, we are no earthly good”. When evangelistic dialogue is exclusively employed over testimony of present lives blessed and highly favored by an intimate ‘now’ relationship with the Living God, do we not give credulity to anti-Christ perspectives that the far country we long far is just “pie in the sky”? God forbid! Obedient faith walk is far better than sacrificial faith talk.
Ken, I don’t believe we can be too heavenly minded when we are called in scripture to think on things above where Christ is. And how can being heavenly-minded render us of no earthly good? It is precisely our heavenly thinking which makes us good for the earth. That is why we pray that His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. The much used cliche you mention does not rise to the level if truth.
Agreed. It was borrowed from some older baptist deacons/pastors, who learned scripture application in turn of the century country shade tree seminaries. Nonetheless, I do think that sometimes, in the midst of current evangelical verbal efforts, the vibrancy and reality of our eternal blessings often gets drown out by an intense and pressing need to fill up pews for the sake of having them occupied. Showing the blessings of an ‘abundant’ life now in an intimate relationship with Christ has merit. Especially, when the witness is prefaced with deep seated appreciation of graced salvation, while doing the ‘work of our hands’ given ‘as unto the Lord’.