Resurrections and Christmas parties
People don't often think of the resurrection as a very practical doctrine. But here, just in time for Christmas, is one good example of how it is.
I'm talking of course about the office Christmas party where alcohol flows freely and some present will demonstrate far too well why inhibitions are not as bad an idea as some people think.
According to the Bible, the real division at the office Christmas party is not between those who are inhibited and those who aren't. It's between those who genuinely believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and those who don't.
For belief in the resurrection of Jesus will mean two things.
The first is that we will fear him because he has risen, as the Bible promises, to be our judge. This by itself ought to be enough to hold some people back from debauchery. A right fear of judgement is a wonderful thing for pulling us back from the brink of stupid things we might otherwise have done"”whether it's the judgement of a police officer with a breathalyser; the judgement of those who remember our behaviour after the party; or the awful final judgement of God who calls to account the living and the dead for things done while in the body.
The second is that if Jesus' resurrection is paving the way for the resurrection of all mankind, then believing this means that the things we do in the body do have significance even for the office party. If our bodies are indeed destined for death"”permanent death, without hope of resurrection or even the drudgery of reincarnation, then what we do with them has no significance at all. Fill your body with food, drink and all the rest: 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.' If no resurrection, then there is no reason not to use the office Christmas party to drink yourself silly and make that approach or remark that, in any other context, would be well beyond allowable. Or, to use the time to promote subtler sins like gossip, slander, and self-promotion. For all bad behaviour is just the twitching of a body that will soon be permanently dead.
But if our bodies will rise and be transformed, in Christ, to be like his glorious risen body (1 Corinthians 15:49) then we will relate to our bodies and each other as living people, not dead. Our speaking, looking, touching, behaving, thinking: every last bit of it has consequences not just for parties or for the mornings after, but into eternity. For the sins we commit at office parties, and elsewhere, are sins for which Jesus died so that we might be forgiven and put to an end.
For us now, the life we now live through trust in Christ is a life characterised by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit, expressed in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
If we have that life, we have an office party that works, and a genuinely Merry Christmas. Nice!
The Rev Gordon Cheng works in university student ministry. This article was originally written for TJ Andrews Funeral Services.
image: courtesy Polite in Public