1 Corinthians 15:13-14 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories in which one or more historical events unfold differently than they occurred in reality. For example, Robert Harris’ Fatherland published in 1992 describes what the world would have been like had Nazi Germany won World War II.
As a sports fan it is easy to play the Alternative History game, especially if your team or athlete fell on the wrong side of a win. As a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I can’t help to wonder what would be different had Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings not scored in overtime to win the series against the Leafs in 1993. Or what if my team had won the deciding game 7 against the rival Boston Bruins in 2013? We were up 4-1 with just over 14 minutes left in the final period, but “the wheels fell off the bus” and 4 goals later Boston had clinched their ticket to the next round and the Leafs began their usual summer golfing.
Other fans have been on the victorious side of that equation. In 2008 in the NFL Super Bowl XLII, Eli Manning and his New York Giants were trailing 14-10 with just under 3 minutes left. On a crucial third down with 5 yards remaining on the Giants’ own 44-yard line, Manning avoided several near sacks, and somehow got a pass away to his receiver David Tyree who made a phenomenal catch. Four plays later Plaxico Burress caught the game winning touchdown. What if Eli Manning hadn’t eluded those offensive linesmen? What if Tyree hadn’t made that amazing catch? What if Burress had not caught the game winning touchdown?
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he engages in a similar exercise of alternate history hypothesizing. 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15: 13-17)
It’s true. If Christ did not die and did not rise again then our faith is useless, it is futile. It makes no sense to live our lives as followers of Christ, and it certainly makes no sense sharing it with anyone else. But the wonderful news is that it did happen, and there is nothing that can change that most important part of our world history. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15: 20-22)
Sometimes life can get hectic, and we can easily lose focus on what is truly important for us as Christians. Christ died for the sins of the world, and we are called to share this Good News with the world. There is no need to re-write history, for God made it perfect the first time.