“Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” - 1 Corinthians 15:58
As the title of this blog reveals, the pastors have decided to bring the era of the weekly blog to an end, although we will still write blogs on occasion. We plan to reveal new devotional and discipleship opportunities this fall and will be putting time and energy into creating a podcast to strengthen and encourage the church. Primarily, we will use the weekly blast to communicate key information to you. For today’s blog, I thought I would mediate on the eternal significance of even small things we do for the Lord.
Paul was writing to a community of believers in the city of Corinth who seemed to be struggling with the idea of eternal significance. They were making some weird assumptions about feasting and fasting and human sexuality and it all added up to what looks like “just living for today.” They even were doubting that there was a bodily resurrection at the end of time and to this Paul goes on at length that the bodily resurrection is THE HOPE of the faith. He also wants them to stay engaged in the real needs of the churches elsewhere by giving generously. For Paul, a life shaped by the gospel of Jesus stays engaged in real needs now and keeps an eye on the life to come.
Because there is a resurrection, the now and what is to come stay connected. This teaching about the resurrection was the only real evangelism strategy the early church had. They preached the resurrection of the son of God and the world changed. It caused riots in Jerusalem, confusion in erudite Corinth, and economic disaster in Ephesus. It provoked ridicule from short-sighted aristocracy but deep concern for thoughtful Roman leaders who knew it would affect their world. This was a novel and world-shaping idea, and it was what the church preached. We don’t have record of them preaching a heaven-or-hell-make-your-choice-today gospel, we have record of them preaching a resurrection-is-coming-and-so-nothing-is-overlooked-or-forgotten gospel. The early church fervently believed that our deeds would follow us, and that God would reveal everything at the end of time, including all abuses, all scandals, all lies, and all noble and altruistic deeds and that he would judge the resurrected populace of history accurately and finally based on the connection of the now and the what is to come.
Resurrection is still the most remarkable idea the world has ever encountered.
It is a big, beautiful, terrifying idea and it means that every dollar you give and every small thing you do for the Lord, however overlooked, is never lost. Therefore, Paul can write with confidence, “Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” The small efforts you and I make, matter. The ministries that start and then stop, were not in vain. The relationships that began but faded out, still counted. The hymns that were sung but have become overlooked for modern songs, still bring God eternal glory. The prayers faithfully offered are remembered even if their effect is unclear until the day of resurrection. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is forgotten.
This is true for a few reasons. One is the incredible power and wisdom of God, who never wastes a good deed or loving act. But the second is that in the resurrection, you will be you. You will be there with your memories, your passions, your heart… nothing lost.
Renewed? Yes, yes, yes!
But it is you who are being saved, and the you of today is the you in a greater and incorruptible form that will stand before the King of the Universe at the last day.
So, resurrection is God’s way of saving everything good. And by it he connects the small things of now to the great things of the world to come. Resurrection means that,
The group you led that people didn’t finish… was not a waste,
The event you hosted that some bailed on… was not in vain,
The cards, texts, calls, and emails unanswered… still count,
Even the money spent, and time committed on things shut down… was not a total loss.
Do not lose heart, dear ones. The God of the Universe numbers the hairs on your head, the things that really make you anxious are forever in his sight. The restorer of all things will ensure that all things will work for the good of those who love him. Your father in heaven knows what you need and sees every secret thing.
Grace to you,