Do you remember this story from when it hit the news?
An Australian missionary named Graham Staines had served in India for 34 years. In 1999, Graham and his two sons were sleeping in their car outside an Indian village when Hindu extremists surrounded the car, doused it with kerosene and set it on fire. Graham and his two sons died in the fire, and their remains were found clinging to one another in the car. It was a horrible tragedy and made headlines around the world.
Graham’s wife, Gladys, and their 13-year-old daughter, Esther, were not with Graham, and they were unharmed. But you can imagine how devastating it must have been for them to hear the news. What was their response to this horrible tragedy?
“I have only one message for the people of India. I’m not bitter. Neither am I angry. But I have one great desire: that each citizen of this country should establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who gave his life for their sins…let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ’s love.”
Gladys went on to found a hospital for lepers in India in Graham’s name. And this incident gave many Indians greater openness to the gospel.
Now I have a number of reactions to a story like that. I feel horror for what this family suffered. I feel great admiration for Gladys and Esther. I feel inadequate, realizing how little I am willing to sacrifice and suffer for the Lord. And I feel inspired. Something in me says I want more of what they’ve got. I want that kind of immovable, unstoppable faith they have.
What about you?
The Resurrection Enables Us to Stand Firm
After elaborating on the resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes: “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” (v. 58).
To “stand firm” is the meaning of the word translated steadfast. It means to be firmly established and grounded; picture someone taking a very solid stance, physically speaking. In the act of standing firm, however, a person must have something solid on which to stand. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is that “something solid.” It proves that the gospel we believe is actually true. It validates our faith.
The fact is, there is compelling historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. And if Jesus rose from the dead we have a historical basis for believing Christianity. It can no longer just be considered your opinion or my opinion. It’s a historical truth claim that everyone must reckon with at some point or another during the course of their life. So believing the resurrection means we have a very firm stance in the gospel, and our faith is therefore validated.
But we not only stand firmly in the faith, we are made immovable by God’s Word.
The Resurrection Empowers Us to be Immovable
Our world is fraught with the always-blowing winds of culture. Picture someone standing firmly on the gospel, but winds of increasing speed and intensity are trying to move them. That’s what it’s like to live in this world. There are always new winds, new ideas, new challenges to the Christian worldview. And they are constantly assaulting us and trying to get us to move off the gospel.
Paul wrote the above passage for the Corinthian Christians, who were being swayed by the winds of Greek thought. The Greeks believed that the soul was released from the body at death, so Christians also began to deny that their bodies would be raised from the dead.
Today we face different cultural winds. Our winds tend to come from the direction of tolerance and sexuality. But the resurrection empowers us to stand against them through its validation of the Bible as truth. The Bible gives us God’s perspective on all these cultural issues. We have a standard by which to judge the ever-changing philosophies swirling all around us.
The Resurrection Spurs Us to Abound in Work for the Lord
Lastly, the knowledge that all believers will be resurrected from the dead one day gives us an eternal perspective on ministry. It expands our horizons in ministry from this life unto eternity. 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us that the here-and-now is only the beginning.
Think about your ministry. It is not only having an impact on others in this life. It is making an eternal impact. Whether you are serving the Lord as an usher or as a Sunday School teacher, you are part of God’s work to bring people to Himself and transform them to be like Christ. And the resurrection reminds us that our ministry has repercussions forever. Remembering the eternal scope of all we do spurs us on to abound in work for the Lord.
Be Immovable, Be Unstoppable
Gladys Gaines was immovable and unstoppable because her hope was in the resurrection of the dead. She abounded in the work of the Lord because she saw each person as an eternal soul who would rise again one day.
Christian, rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus! Rejoice in the resurrection of believers! For the resurrection enables you to be steadfast, immovable and abounding in the work of the Lord as well.
May it be so for all of us.