Friday, May 08, 2009

Eat, Drink And Be Merry

At Inform on Tuesday night, we did a Bible study on 1 Corinthians 15. There we saw the importance of the resurrection in the Christian faith. Some in Corinth appear to have been saying that there was no resurrection. Paul therefore spells out what this would mean for Christ (he would still be dead), for the believer (we would still be dead in our sins, and our faith would be futile), and for Paul (he was calling God a liar and misrepresenting God).

As Paul continues, he warns the Corinthian Christians to be careful who they associate with. There's a danger in them hanging out with those who deny the resurrection, as they will be led astray. They'll end up believing the spirit of the world, the zeitgeist, and think that this world is all there is. If that's the case, then:

Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:32)

Basically, if this world is all there is, and there is no resurrection, no heaven to look forward to, then we might as well party now and make the most of what time we have left.

An example of this can be found in Tonight We Fly by The Divine Comedy. An ironic statement by their frontman, Neil Hannon, son of the former Bishop of Clogher, Brian Hannon. In the song, Hannon sings: 'And when we die, Oh, will we be that disappointed or sad if heaven doesn't exist. What will we have missed? This life is the best we've ever had.'

It's a fatalistic, depressive worldview with no hope, only a quiet desperation.

What I didn't realise the other night, though, was that Paul is actually quoting Scripture as he wrote to the Corinthians. I came across the reference when reading Isaiah. While the situation is different, the prevailing attitude is still one of enjoy what you have while you can.

Jerusalem had been under siege, with enemy forces camping around the city. So what do you do in that situation? Prepare to fight? Surrender? Pray? Turn to the Lord in repentance? The inhabitants of Jerusalem hadn't done any of these things. Rather, they turned to pleasure and enjoying the brief time they had left:

In that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and mourning, for baldness and wearing sackcloth; and behold, joy and gladness, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." (Isaiah 22:12-13)

They turned to fatalism, not faith; to pleasure, not repentance; to gluttony, not God. How do we demonstrate our faith in the God who raises us from the dead and guarantees eternal life through the victory of Jesus Christ? This world is not all there is - we look to our heavenly home.

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