Life after the Resurrection
by Impact Church
32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34 Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:32-34
In the classic 1884 book, Flatland, Edwin A. Abbott wrote of figures inhabiting a two-dimensional world as line segments and polygons. None in that world could see or imagine a three-dimensional world. In Flatland, a sphere was seen only as a circle and a cube was seen only as a square. They had no ability to see more than they were. Though unknown to those in Flatland, the three-dimensional world was real. Those who lived in the three-dimensional world, as the sphere and the cube did, could perceive and understand the people of Flatland. When someone has been translated into a higher dimension they can perceive and know the greater realities of the world and leave the lesser world. Leave the Flatland. People of a greater world can overcome the limitations of the lesser world. The opposite isn’t true.
1 Corinthians 15 is Paul’s strongest argument on the reality and importance of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and our impending translation from the physical body we have to the glorified body we’ll receive one day. Like Jesus, our resurrected body will not perish. But Paul goes further with the implication of the Resurrection of Jesus and our living in that power. It’s Life after The Resurrection.
In verse 32, Paul contrasts the reality of the resurrection with human motives in describing the value of a dispute he faced in Ephesus. He said he fought with wild beasts there, but what would it profit him? Evidently, a belief in the reality of the Resurrection and its power was his motivation for the fight. Then shockingly, he wrote that if the dead are not raised, then eat and drink up, and then die. Paul saw hedonistic nihilism as the logical choice for living without the reality of the Resurrection. Flatland.
King Solomon, with unlimited resources, followed that logic and sought unlimited pleasure. He wrote in Ecclesiastes 2:1-3: “I said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.’ And behold, it too was futility. 2 I said of laughter, ‘It is madness,’ and of pleasure, ‘What does it accomplish?’ 3 I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.’”
In Ecclesiastes, the phrase for Flatland is “under the sun” or “under heaven”. It meant seeing life on a horizontal plane. The fleshy world. Solomon called it futile. Vanity. Meaningless. In the 20th century, the French existentialistic Albert Camus similarly wrote, “Because I longed for eternal life, I went to bed with harlots and drank for nights on end.”
People either live in a two-dimensional world, the world of Flatland, or they live in a three-dimensional world, the world of the Sphere. This simply complex parabolic story opens up our understanding that there is another perspective to have on life. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Easter event, has long-term and life-changing implications for the life to come and for this life. It should change our life from one of living in the fleshy, futile and death spiral of this world and elevate us to the new life that is spiritual, meaningful, and eternal. The Sphere of the Spirit.
Paul cautioned the Corinthians that “bad company corrupts good morals”. The lesser world, Flatland, can deceive those from a greater life, the life of the Risen Jesus. Those who have believed in Jesus should stop sinning; stop living in the lesser world of the flesh. Our desires are too small, seeking the fleshly things. Desire greater things. Higher things. Have great and ambitious desires for Life after the Resurrection! “He is Risen!” is followed by “He is alive in you!” So, live!