Looking Death in the Face

August 5, 2019

“And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn't be the end of me? Not on your life! It's resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live.” 1 Corinthians 15:30-32a MSG

What do the Tough Mudder events, Spartan Races, Boot Camp, and Hell Week in Navy SEAL BUD/S have in common? In their own way and by their own standards, these
organizations/events are trying to sort “the men from the boys.” They are finding out who can face the toughest challenges and endure. What makes this especially intriguing is that the candidates in each setting have chosen the struggle. They have willingly stepped forward to take the risks of hardship, hurt, everything that goes with it. They are risking failure, risking their well-being, risking their reputation for something they believe is worth it.

Paul was a really “tough guy.” Like the men and women who choose to undergo the rigorous testing and hardships in order to be part of an elite group, first century apostle Paul willingly faced the worst his enemies and Enemy, Satan, could offer every day. By his own word, he faced worse than the worst Navy SEAL training or anything comparable because he didn’t just face failure and disappointment and pain every day, he “looked death in the face practically every day,” even fighting wild beasts! He was a shipwrecked, beaten, prison veteran! And he asks his friends the question, “Why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work?”

Paul was not doing it to be part of an elite group; not because he wanted to be a military hero or any such thing. He wasn’t trying to get his name on a special list. He had a core motive that was huge. It was because he found his security, worth, identity, and purpose in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This man, who predicted His own death and resurrection and fulfilled it, believed Paul was capable of being His faithful follower. Paul stepped out in faith, throwing the whole weight of his life on the promises that Jesus made: He too would be resurrected! Not even death could conquer him, so he could risk anything!

He said, “It’s resurrection—always resurrection—that undergirds what I do and say and the way I live!” A favorite question for preachers and motivators to ask is, “What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?” A better question for believers is this: “What would you be willing to risk if you believed, like Paul, that death has no power over you? If you were buoyed by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ as he was?”

  • Honestly consider how much your belief in Jesus’ resurrection and His promise that you will rise again too affects what you say and do and how you live. Talk to Jesus about it.