“For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-58)
The Resurrection of the Dead Changes Everything
The resurrection of the dead changes everything. For Paul’s reasoning on this, read all of 1 Corinthians 15. Paul also addresses those who did not believe in the resurrection: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14) In other words, the resurrection is at the very heart of the Christian gospel. Not just the life and teachings of Jesus. Not just the crucifixion of Jesus. These AND the resurrection of Jesus as the Christ... Messiah... Lord of all.
If you ever wonder if your proclamation of Christ and work on behalf of the kingdom of God is worth anything, don’t! (That’s part of what Paul is saying here.) “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Be steadfast. Be resolute and unwavering in your faith in God, and in the Spirit - the power of God - which gives life and also gives new life to those who have died.
Be immovable. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) God has eternal life in mind for you. So be immovable in your trust in God.
Excel in the “work of the Lord.” That includes loving, forgiving, and serving. It includes seeing and inviting in those who are on the margins of society. That work includes healing. It includes praying for all, including your enemies. That includes proclaiming Christ and pointing to Christ, and giving glory and worship to God. That includes listening for God’s words to you, and acting on what you hear. The work includes resisting evil, striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of every human being. It includes being a faithful steward of all that you have been given.
Whenever you do this work, Paul says, your labor cannot be in vain. For you are doing it “in the Lord”... by the power of the Spirit... “in Christ”. And no matter what happens to you, at the end of your life... God is going to give you back your life again. Your mortal body must put on immortality. You will exchange your physical body for a resurrected body - thanks be to God, “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
So do not grow weary in your labors done on behalf of the Lord. The victory has been won already, so keep on going! And remember, too, that Jesus is always just a breath away, ready to offer you rest - whenever you need it. (See Matthew 11:28-30) If you are weary not just in body and mind, but down to your very soul, too, then come to Jesus. For in him you will find rest for your soul. (His words, not mine!)