Ha ha, made you look.
Ever notice how social media has multiplied experts in “church”? And how those experts spin endless lists, usually of fives or tens, telling us what the church MUST do in order to be… what? Usually, it’s to preserve its buildings, budgets and by-laws or find its justification in the eyes of the culturally favored.
In the face of that tsunami of wisdom, my morning my readings found higher ground in 1 Corinthians 15, which is the New Testament’s most elaborate teaching on the resurrection of the dead. You know, mysterious background creedal stuff having nothing to do with the 5 or 10 things your church MUST do.
To start the chapter, the Apostle Paul shares what might be part of an early hymn or germ of a creed,
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (verses 3-8)
“First importance” is not rules, causes or programs. It’s not a demographic that MUST be reached or retained. It’s not institutional churchy stuff or politics. The death, resurrection and new life of Jesus in his people is the core “agenda.”
His death was “for our sins” and, as the chapter spells out, and his resurrection from death is a reality in which his people will share.
There is a new existence on the way, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power (v. 24). A church busy currying favor and justifying its existence via those “rules, authorities and powers” will go down with them.
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again is the summary of first things in one of the Communion prayers.
The Apostle says, so we preach and so you believed (v.11).