Neither All Nor Nothing

“If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:14

Some years ago, I went to a dinner party hosted by a middle-aged Finnish couple named Eeva and Nils. I was seated between Nils and a college student named Steven. This made me the referee in a drinking contest between a depressive Finn and an excitable frat brother. Clash of the Titans!

As the evening wore on, it became apparent that these two approached life with starkly differing philosophies. Steven was concerned to make it big, earning the maximum amount of pleasure and success in the shortest possible time. Nils simply wanted to crawl into a dark room with heated rocks.

Steven prattled on, “I should write a mystery novel. I could make a mint! Or maybe I could go to law school? What do you think?” And Nils answered, “What does it matter?”

“Or I could get into computers. Maybe in some city with good rock climbing!”  Nils: “Why bother?”  “Honestly, I think what I should do is first learn how to sail and then become a doctor. I could retire early and live on my boat.”  “Or you could drown.”

It seemed not so much an argument as people from two different planets trying to have a conversation. But behind Nils’s and Steven’s competing philosophies sat the same dead option. Both men believed in the grave.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that death forces those who place their faith in the grave to either “frantically affirm” life or to hold life in “indifferent contempt.” When death has the final word life is either a cheap gift expiring quickly or our only shot at an eternity’s worth of meaning. It’s all or nothing.

But the truth is, life is neither of these things. It’s a good gift, but it isn’t everything. There’s more. How do we know this? Because Easter is coming. Soon.


Dear God, we thank you for the way in which the resurrection expands our options infinitely, eternally. 

ddauthormattfitzgerald.jpgAbout the Author
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.