Would I live differently if I knew there was no God?

November 24, 2009

The question has come up for me in my reading: if I found out there was no God, would I really live my life differently? You know, would I keep living the way I am living now? Or would I change? It’s a question that is good to ask sometimes in order to “test myself” and evaluate how I am really living my life.

A while ago I would have probably said, “No, the way I am living my life is still good and I would continue to live the same.” My thoughts went like this: I’ve found that the people I care most about live the same way. I’ve found that I enjoy following a biblical morality, it leads to a good life. I can’t honestly say that I would drastically live my life any different. And I thought that was a good thing. You know, that’s the cool thing about Christianity — even if it’s not true I still enjoyed my life and don’t regret much of what I did. Church brought me encouragement. The Bible gave me hope. So Christianity is the best of both worlds, kind of — if it’s true then I get to go to heaven and not hell, and if it isn’t true then I enjoyed my life as well. Either way works for me.

But then I read this verse that has just been lingering in my mind for the longest time. It’s a verse that I’ve read (and memorized) a bunch, but I never really read it and took it literally and seriously. It says,

“If Christ had not been raised… if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

— 1 Corinthians 15:17 & 19

What that says is that if Christianity is wrong, if Christ is still in the grave, if there is no God of the Bible, then I should be most pitied of all men. Most pitied of all men. Why? Because the way I live out my Christianity is good whether God exists or not? No! Because the way my life is lived is the best possible way to live in the world regardless of what religion is true? No! But that’s the way I think all the time. I wouldn’t really change my life that much if God didn’t exist. I’d still be moral. I’d still hang out with the same friends because they’re quality people. I’d live the same. If I’m really honest, I think I wouldn’t live differently.

And that is sad. Very sad. Not because of the way I’d live if there was no God, but because of the way I live now. Paul doesn’t challenge me because I think I ought to live differently if Jesus never raised from the dead, he challenges me because I should live so much differently now because Jesus has been raised from the dead. My life should be so devoted to serving God and giving Him everything now because I believe there is more to life than right now, that if God didn’t raise Jesus from the dead I’d drastically change my life.

What this verse reveals in my heart (if I’m really honest with myself) is that I am not fully living for Christ. I’m not even close to it! I wouldn’t change anything?! Really!?! God doesn’t change my life that much? I have to honestly ask myself right now — if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then would people pity me? Would they even pity me a little bit, much less being the most pitiable of all men? Sadly, I’m not sure many people would pity me. Would they pity you? Honestly ask yourself.

Here’s why they’d pity Paul:

“…God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake… we are weak… we [are held] in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like scum of the world, the refuse of all things.”

      — 1 Corinthians 4:9-13
He gave everything he had — why? For Christ‘s sake.That’s why he’d be the most pitied of all men. If you want to read more about what he gave up check out 2 Corinthians 11:21-29. You bet Paul would live differently if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead! There’s no way he’d get stoned in Lystra and then move on the next day to preach the gospel of Christ again in Derbe (Acts 14). There’s no way he’d abandon everything he had before the Pharisees to follow Christ like he did (Philippians 3). Paul would live an entirely different life if Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead!
But would I? Gosh, I wish I could heartily say, “You bet! I’ve given everything for Jesus! I’ve been a fool for Him!” But I honestly can’t. I don’t know how many of us honestly can say that. That’s sad. Very sad.
We’ve created a Christianity that can be the social norm in our world. We’ve created a Christianity that can be cool, or “alright” with our friends. We’ve created a “comfortable” and “safe” Christianity. We’ve created a Christianity that is not pitiable if it’s wrong. And I think we’ve created a Christianity that isn’t biblical. A Christianity that doesn’t really take Jesus’ words seriously. I know I am far too guilty of that.
If Jesus didn’t raise from the dead then everyone should look at the church and pity them because they wasted their whole lives giving everything to God! They didn’t hold back at all, because they trusted God’s faithfulness — even if they never saw the promises of God in this life (c.f. Hebrews 11). How many of us would be pitied?
I’m not saying that the Christian life isn’t a joy to live, that it isn’t a blessing to truly follow God. But I am saying that I don’t see many Christians with all of their chips riding on whether Jesus really is alive right now or not. We have Jesus and  ________ (fill in the blank). We’re playing it safe. Not doing anything uncomfortable. Not risking everything (I mean everything) on God and His promises. And like Paul, I am the chief of sinners in this.
If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead would you live differently?
I hope so.
I hope you’d live more for comfort. I hope you’d live more for security. I hope you’d live more for this life and making it as enjoyable as possible. I’d hope you wouldn’t give so much or sacrifice your time for people who don’t have much. I’d hope you wouldn’t waste your time loving people who aren’t lovable, or who have hurt you. I’d hope you wouldn’t waste so much time reading your Bible. I’d hope you wouldn’t try and share in Christ’s sufferings. I’d hope you wouldn’t rejoice in trials. I’d hope you wouldn’t do anything difficult or painful for yourself or anyone else. I’d hope you wouldn’t risk mockery by trying to share the gospel with your neighbors and friends. I’d hope you’d make sure your life turns out how you want it to turn out. I’d hope you would avoid pain, suffering, and adversity at all costs. I’d hope you wouldn’t worry so much about character, or reflecting God’s image. I’d hope you’d worry more about what people think of you than what God does. I hope you’d be wise in this world and make sure you are successful and prosperous. I’d hope you’d make sure you never have to live by faith. I’d hope you would make sure that you’re always in control of what’s going on.
But the truth is: Christ has risen…         

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