“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Corinthians 15:19
Whenever I read this Word of God, I can’t help but shake my head at the striking example of hypocrisy.
Throughout this dying world, millions of people believe that Jesus Christ is dead. They may think that He was a real, historical figure or they may think that He never existed. In either case, the hope that people attach to Him is viewed as empty and meaningless. It is seen only as a crutch to get weak people through life. As Karl Marx put it: “Religion…is the opium of the people.”
For other religions, this is true. In their desperation to find some hope for a joyful afterlife, people have created for themselves religions which give this promise. These religions acknowledge the existence of a divine being(s), but their make-believe gods are fashioned in the image of man. Only in this way can these people hope to find a standard to which they can attain. Set the standards low enough and anyone can get to heaven— paradise, nirvana, Shangri-la, Valhalla, Elysium, or some other after-life.
However, it is all in vain, and the adherents of such religions are to be pitied.
Or are we the ones to be pitied? We place all our hopes on one lowly Jew who was put to death on a cross and buried in a tomb. We place our hopes on Him, because we believe that He rose from the dead, thus revealing that He achieved everything for which He came into this world. He achieved forgiveness of sins for everyone; He achieved justification for everyone; He achieved eternal life for everyone, although only those who trust in what He achieved actually receive eternal life.
But “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
Indeed, is our hope in Christ only a vain panacea for all our earthly sufferings and sorrows? Did He rise, or is His body still in an ancient tomb? The answer is simple, but its simplicity can be grasped only by those who have faith.
“But now Christ is risen from the dead…”
The religion that is taught and lived at Immanuel Lutheran College is not one of human origin. It is not one that “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:19). Rather, it is of divine origin. It is the religion that IS, not one which once was not and then was invented. It is the religion that rests on righteousness and holiness…the righteousness and holiness of God and which is also required of man. It is the religion that reveals that man of himself is unrighteous and unholy, and therefore incompatible with God. It is the religion that reveals the glory of God’s grace which removed man‘s unrighteousness and replaced it with the God’s own righteousness. This was all accomplished in the person and work of God’s Son who was made “to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The religion of Immanuel Lutheran College proclaims, “But now Christ is risen from the dead….” Therefore, our faculty, staff, and students are not to be pitied, but to be envied. Our belief is not a crutch, but a springboard launching us into a life of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control (see Galatians 5:22f).
Our belief makes us the most beneficial of Earth’s inhabitants. More than this, it gives us a citizenship in heaven. “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21f).
O God, bless Immanuel Lutheran College for the sake of the risen Savior. Amen.