Followers of Christ look forward to the day the Lord makes all things new. New bodies, new heavens, new earth, good stuff! But what about the old stuff? If it's "all going to burn", what difference does what I do here and now make? Does the resurrection of the body render current life rather pointless, except for evangelistic purposes?
One might think so. But one would be wrong. The "application verse" that sums up the longest chapter on the resurrection in the Bible says this:
"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Paul is saying that because we believe in the resurrection of the body, all of our work is fused with meaning! It's not in vain!
Our labor in the Lord is not in vain, not merely because of the fact of our resurrection (that we live forever). Our labor is not in vain because what we do will last into eternity! And this isn't just "churchy stuff". The "work of the Lord" is anything we do in his name and for his glory. That could be delivering a sermon or delivering a pizza. It's not just what we do, it's why and how we do it. Tom Wright puts it like this:
"You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that's about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that's shortly going to be thrown on the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that's about to be dug up for a building site. you are – strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself – accomplishing something that will become in due course part of god's new world. every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human being…; and of course every prayer, all spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world – all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of god, into the new creation that god will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God." (p. 208)
So, who are you working for, your boss, yourself, or the Lord? If it's not for the Lord it's just wood, hay and stubble ready to be burned up. But if it is for the Lord, then it is pure gold that will last forever!
The well wisher of your soul's happiness,