April 23, 2017 – “The Last Enemy”

An audio file of the sermon from this morning, April 23, 2017, is available for listening and downloading at this link.

A downloadable PDF file of the worship bulletin is available at this link.

The Scripture readings are Job 19:23-29 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-23.

“Christians believe our identity survives death. And if that isn’t true, if death is truly the final end of every person’s existence, then nothing in the world matters. Take away the reality of resurrection, and you remove any motivation to care about the world, to care about the environment, to care about people.

“That was one of the major problems in the church of Corinth during its first years. It seems that some people there had concluded that there would be no resurrection, that death itself was a kind of escape that would be a relief. Perhaps they had picked up from the surrounding culture the common idea that the material world is evil, and therefore that our bodies are evil, just a source of pain and trouble and limitation.

“The movement that would eventually become Gnosticism was just beginning here and there. When that movement matured, it taught people that the way to escape the evil world was to use special, arcane knowledge to focus on the “spark of divinity within.” But already within Paul’s lifetime, and within the Corinthian church, the basic idea that the mind is good and the body is a problem was deeply rooted and bearing fruit.

“The fruit it bore was abuse of bodies, their own and other people’s. That abuse seems to have been of the kind you still associate today with wild parties: abusing your own body with an inappropriate use of food and wine, and abusing both your own body and those of others through a lack of sexual discipline.

“They had lost the sense that life itself is good. Bodily life, material life, life in the physical world, is good. They had forgotten that their identity was not just a spiritual reality, not just a mental reality, but their bodies also are part of their identity. A person is a unity of mind and body. And having forgotten this, they had come to see death as a good thing, the moment when you shed the evil limitation and go free.”