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Not in Vain
by Pastor Jeff Morlock
Have you ever taken on a project and realized halfway through that it was a waste of time? You quit before putting any more effort into it because the result was going to be useless. The most famous example of this may be the World Islands off the coast of Dubai. The United Arab Emirates set out to construct a resort comprised of 300 private islands, formed from dredged up sand and shaped to look like continents. Construction began in 2003, but the whole project ground to a halt when it was hampered by the financial crisis of 2008 as well as reports of the islands sinking into the water. In today’s Scripture, St. Paul wants to encourage his readers not to abandon their faith like that. When the Corinthian believers first heard the Gospel, they turned away from their false gods and their old way of life. They received the gospel. They stood on it. And were being saved by it. Now Paul encourages them to hold firmly to this good news. "Otherwise, you have believed in vain." If we’re not holding firmly to the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then we’re grasping at something else to give us security in the present and hope for the future. You may know people who received Christ, and their relationship with him changed their lives. But over time, they drifted away. Their faith crumbled under weight of temptation to compromise, to align with a worldview that better suited their lifestyle. Eventually, their hope was built on something less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… on something less than his death and resurrection. "Hold firmly to the word I preached to you," says Paul, lest like the World Islands, your faith becomes an abandoned enterprise.
Jesus’ death and resurrection is of first importance, for it assures forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection frees me to give generously of my time, energy, gifts, and resources because my physical death is not the end of me. His resurrection frees me from the fear of not being enough or having enough. Christ’s resurrection frees me to live with open hands rather than clenched fists. Anything less is sinking sand.
Spend some time in prayer, confessing how you have fallen short in holding fast to Jesus - to who he is and what he's done and all that he has promised. What other things have you centered your life around? Or looked to for security and hope? What "sinking sand" do you need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you avoid this week?