One of the interesting things about Saint Paul’s great defense of bodily resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 is that his tightly reasoned argument ends with a practical exhortation: “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)
The key word here is the “therefore.” Paul realized that what we think about the future effects (or ought to effect) how we live in the present. This is why, following his lengthy discussion of the Christian hope, Paul basically says, “Therefore get on with your job.”
It’s easy to slip into the Gnostic assumption that our spiritual work is purely personal and private, or that it relates merely to securing a heavenly future for ourselves and others. Now personal salvation is crucially important, and that is why we should never neglect the work of evangelism. However, the Christian hope involves more than simply the renewal of individuals: God is also working to renew the earth itself (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
Just as belief in our own personal resurrection should spur us to righteous living in the present (1 Corinthians 15:29-34), so belief in the future renewal of the whole earth (Revelation 21:1) should act as a catalyst for us to work to make the world a better place in the present. The doctrine of new creation therefore has cultural, economic, ecological and political consequences.
At least, that is what I argued in my Colson Center article 'Building for God's Kingdom.' To read the article, click on the following link: