O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (NLT)
It is interesting that Paul finishes his great chapter on the resurrection of Jesus with this encouragement to live fully in the present. No chance of followers of Jesus being urged to sit back and wait for heaven. Paul doesn’t want us to be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly use.
There are a few reasons for this. One is that since Jesus is alive, he is Lord or ruler of all. So we have to live in the light of his scrutiny, we have to be instruments of his rule rather than hindrances to it. Another is that since Jesus is alive, he is ready to empower us to live his way: we are not left to struggle through on our own.
A third reason is that what we do here and now matters because what we do here and now has everlasting consequences. It seems from Paul’s earlier arguments about life after death that he envisages some continuity between this earth and the new heavens and new earth. Unlike the over-spiritual Corinthians, he sees our bodies as having a future—though our bodies will be renewed. He sees the earth having a future, albeit devoid of its present brokenness.
So we are to be up and about, recognising that any good thing done for Jesus now will live on. Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t just mean we will one day rise again. It means we begin a new life now. Rather than sitting back waiting for heaven, we bring a bit of heaven to earth.