Paul understood clearly that ideas have consequences and that what we believe determines how we behave. If we believe that Christ is who he claimed to be and that he defeated death and the grave, we should live for him – in his presence, under his authority, and for his glory. But if all we have is this earthly existence, we might as well just live for ourselves because the grave is truly our final resting place.
In this age of relativism, tolerance, and inclusion, Christ's claims of absolutism and exclusivity make many uncomfortable. It is deemed to be grossly offensive, even hateful, to assert that there is only one way to God. Acknowledging Jesus as a sage, even a martyr, is a convenient way of co-opting Christian moral philosophy while skirting the pesky "way, truth, and life" issue. But Jesus won't allow us to have it both ways. Christ did not come to earth merely to usher in a new morality. C. S. Lewis explains, "…Christianity is not the promulgation of a moral discovery. It is addressed only to penitents, only to those who admit their disobedience to the known moral law." In other words, Christ did not come to teach morality to those who are ignorant of it. He did not come to offer a new moral law. He came to save those who had fallen short of the existing one. Ultimately, Christ came to save sinners. (1 Tim. 1:15)
For Christians, there is eternal hope in the death and resurrection of Jesus. With Christ we die to our sins, and in Christ we rise to new life. Christ has promised to restore all things, to make all things new. In a world that seems so full of darkness, injustice, and sorrow, we can take solace in the fact that evil doesn't get the last word. There's not a period at the end of the sentence for those who place their hope in the Cross. The reality of the resurrection is what prompted St. Augustine to declare, "We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song."
As the Church enters the season of Pentecost, all would do well to confront the claims of Jesus Christ and meditate on the challenge posed by mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal:
"Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists."
There can be no surer bet.