“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead….” 1 Corinthians 15.20
ROSEVILLE, MI – Janell (not her real name) was our waitress for lunch. There were 15 of us (mostly pastors), and most of us had individual checks. Janell had done a great job, but one guy wanted to pay for another guy’s lunch and well…let’s just say it sort of messed things up. Janell started to apologize, then she broke down. You see, she suffers from high anxiety, and it doesn’t take much to trigger it. This triggered it.
Anxiety is not rational. It makes mountains out of molehills. It tells you something is far worse than what it really is which is why anxiety is so crippling. Like an internal alarm clock that won’t stop beeping, anxiety says, “you are going to fail, you are going to be rejected, you are going to mess up, you are going to let others down.” And of course, when you listen to that, you tend to believe it which only reinforces it. You may know Janell. She may listen to you preach on Sunday, or sit next to you in church. In fact, you may be her. Does the resurrection of Jesus speak to her (you) in any meaningful way? YES! A thousand times YES!!
1 Corinthians 15 begins with Paul reminding us of the gospel. The gospel means “good news.” Good news is something that is announced. We do not make the news, we declare the news. We declare what has already happened. The resurrection of Christ is an event that has taken place which infinitely, decisively, and unalterably proved that Christ has indeed lived a perfect life. Christ has indeed died a perfect substitutionary death. Christ has indeed paid for our sins. Christ has indeed absorbed the just and righteous wrath of the Father that should have been poured out on us. The payment has been accepted. The check has cleared the bank. Christ has risen from the dead. Therefore, if you repent of your sin and trust in Christ alone, you are united with Christ – forever! You are now and forever in Christ! Nothing can separate you from the love of God – ever. That means that no matter how hard the battle is, how difficult the game may be, how challenging the situation is, at the end, you win. You win because Christ has already won.
It is like this: Your basketball team is down by 2 with 5 seconds to go in the game. You are playing for the NCAA tournament championship. Your coach calls a time out, and draws up a play for you to get the ball and shoot a 3-pointer. If you hit it, you win. If you miss, well…you don’t want to think about it, but in that moment, you do. In fact, it’s almost all you can do. What happens if you miss? You look around. The crowd of 40,000+ is on their feet. Your parents are in the stands along with dozens of basketball legends. The cameras are in your face, the music is pumping, the sound is deafening, and it’s all going to be in your hands. The stakes do not seem like they could be higher. You feel your mouth go dry and your palms sweaty. But wait!
What if you knew that you already won? What if you knew that your victory was already accomplished? What if you knew that from where ever you shot the ball it was going to go in? How would that affect you? Would you panic? Would you still be anxious? If you really knew that you would win, you would be excited to get the ball, and get this over with.
If you are in Christ, the battle is over, the game is already won. Your mission is to live, fight, and play with that in view. Anxiety will not have the final word. Little things that feel like big things will not have the final word. Your sin, failures, and discouragements will not have the final word. Your accusers will not have the final word. Your internal voice of condemnation will not have the final word. Look at Jesus! Look at his empty tomb. Even death will not have the final word.
He won. Game over!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Johnson is the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Roseville since 1989 and is very happy about it.