Have you heard this slogan?
“You only live once!” YOLO, in short form.
I am hearing it more and more. The younger the person I talk to the more likely I am to hear it. I hear it used to encourage doing something great with one’s life, and also to justify immense stupidity. What troubles me is that I am also hearing the same thinking coming from some of the Christians I know. It is not always said outright, but the implications are often there.
You only live once — so we better live it up now.
You only live once — so you better be happy now.
You only live once — so you only get one chance to do it right.
You only live once — so do all you have to do to stay alive.
You only live once — so death is worst of all fates.
The problem, of course, is that it is not true. It is not biblical. It is not congruent with the gospel of Jesus. We live twice. And the second life goes on forever. That’s a pretty big difference! (So would that be YOLT?)
Oddly, in this very religious (though not very loving) Corinthian church, there existed some Christians who also believed you only lived once.
How can some of you say that there is no such thing as resurrection of the dead? (15:12b)
Paul is beside himself. How can a Christian believe that? The entire worldview of Christianity hinges on resurrection. It doesn’t make sense and is a colossal waste of time if there is no resurrection of the dead.
For if the dead aren’t raised, the Messiah wasn’t raised either; and if the Messiah wasn’t raised, your faith is pointless, and you are still in your sins. What’s more, people who have fallen asleep in the Messiah have perished for good. If it’s only for this present life that we have put our hope in the Messiah, we are the most pitiable members of the human race. (15:16-19)
If dead people stay dead, then Jesus was not resurrected. If Jesus was not resurrected, sin was not fully conquered and death was not dealt with at all. There is a force greater than God — death. If these are true, the entire gospel is a farce. The system of beliefs is nonsense. We are living on false hope, and deserve the labels of “ignorant” we sometimes receive. We are missing out and ought to say instead, “Let’s eat and drink, because tomorrow we’re going to die!” (15:32)
But death is not the end. Read that again, if you need to. That is a core belief. We are headed to death. We cannot live this life forever. Cancer and heart attacks and horrible accidents are a reality of the “decaying” life, as Paul calls it in this chapter. But whatever happens that ends this life is not the end. Do we really believe it? It is fundamental.
Death is swallowed up in victory! Death, where’s your victory gone? Death, where’s your sting gone? (15:54b-55)
Thank God! He gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus the Messiah. (15:57)