April 25, 2017

The Divine Adversative

1 Corinthians 15:19-28

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.

—  1 Corinthians 15:19-20

Scripture abounds with examples of what I call the Divine Adversative. This is about God intervening to reverse the effects of our sin.

Yesterday we noted an example of this in the resurrection of Jesus. Christ’s resurrection has reversed everything! Life conquered death, good conquered evil, and love conquered all.

As Paul explains, if Christianity is no more than a “feel-good” faith that helps us behave better in this life, we’re pathetically hopeless. If that is the case, then we have no help from God in this life and no hope for the next, if there is life after death. So it would be better to abandon all hope for ourselves as well as for those who’ve already died. All of this would mean the resurrection is merely a figment of desperate faith.

But then comes the thunderous Divine Adversative: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Hallelujah! We have a hope that extends from our life here on earth to eternity itself. Rather than being defeated by the curse of sin and death, “in Christ all will be made alive,” just as Christ himself is alive for eternity.

All of our hope—and indeed all of our life—is certain, because God said, “But Christ!”

Father, thank you that your Son stepped into our painful history. If not for Jesus Christ, we would be most pitiable. May we honor you with gratitude today for all you have done for us. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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