No sentence, besides those written in sacred Scripture, has changed my life more than one spoken several years ago by a Sunday school teacher whose name I do not remember. The teacher shared how he felt like his “secular” job lacked purpose — before his pastor offered him some paradigm-altering advice.
“Live your life in a way that only makes sense if Jesus died and rose in three days,” the pastor told the teacher. (Or at least that’s how I remember it because I didn’t take notes).
What does such a life look like; a life that compels people to ask for a reason for the hope that is in you? Here are two suggestions that only make sense if Jesus rose.
1. Pursue unity with people who do you evil.
1 Peter 3:8-12 reads, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For ‘Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’”
“Cutting people out of your life” has become trendy. Even a prominent preacher published a blog encouraging readers to cut off someone when “you are no longer happy to see them,” “they take more than they give” or “they are no longer supportive,” among other reasons.
This is utterly unbiblical — praise God. If our Creator approved of such a line of reasoning, surely he would’ve cut us off for rebelling against him long ago. But He didn’t. While we lived lives absent of a reason for God to be happy to see us, Christ died for us. While we used the breath God graciously gave us to worship his creation instead of him, Christ died for us. While we showed support not for God, but rather for His enemy Satan, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, 8:8, Ephesians 2:2).
Who are we, O mere men and women, to refuse to reconcile? We are commanded to unity. We are commanded to bless those who pay us evil. We are commanded to seek and pursue peace — we, being those who have tasted and seen unrivaled forgiveness.
In a world without God, it makes perfect sense to hold a grudge, and it makes absolutely zero sense to love your enemy. Let’s get really practical: It makes no sense to seek unity with someone who voted for a presidential candidate who you vehemently disagree with. It makes no sense to bless someone who’s apathetic toward injustice that you would die combating. It makes no sense to seek peace with someone who has wronged you to such an extent that the pain from it will not end in this lifetime.
But because there is a God, his chosen people must pursue unity in a manner that only makes sense because of how God forgave them.
2. Do not be troubled to suffer for righteousness.
1 Peter 3:13-17 reads, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
Being fearless is easier said than done when you’re faced with suffering. When you’re put in a position at work when refusing to make an unethical decision could leave you unemployed, it makes sense to be troubled. When an unbelieving friend asks you what you believe about news related to gender or abortion, it makes sense to fear how they’ll react to a biblical response.
It makes sense … in a world without a God; a God who is completely sovereign and works all things together for the good of his chosen people; in a world where the suffering doesn’t compare to the glory being prepared (Romans 8:18, 28). But because these are true, we are able to be zealous for Christ’s honor as we’re in harm’s way.
What is accomplished when one lives life in a way that only makes sense if Jesus died and rose in three days?
The supreme, infinite worth of Jesus Christ is magnified amid a watching world; a world which sees devotion to temporary pleasures as a better use of their short lives than devotion to the Creator of all pleasure.
What else is accomplished? Answers are sought about your oddness: Why are you different? What’s the reason for the hope that is in you? How can I know that hope?
If you haven’t been asked questions like these, perhaps the life you’re living makes sense whether Jesus died and rose in three days or not. If that’s the case, meditate on the cross. Meditate on the degree of suffering Jesus endured to reconcile the very people who did him evil into a right relationship with God. By God’s grace, may doing so compel us to live lives which look illogical without belief in the resurrection.