Would You Be Pitied?

One of the better movies, in my opinion, over the last ten years is A Beautiful Mind. The nearly 10-year old movie starring Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe is based on the real life of John Nash, a mathematician who eventually won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Of course, the plot of the movie focuses on Nash’s schizophrenia, which leads him further and further into delusions regarding foreign governments and make-believe colleagues and friends.

One of the turning points of the movie, and Nash’s real life story, occurs when his friends and wife confront him with the false reality he is living in. The film depiction is an emotional one, involving his wife confronting him with facts which fly in the face of what he believes to be true, and closing with a line from a Psychiatrist:

“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of hell would that be?”

The audience feels an appropriate and profound pity on Nash. What would it be like to live your life, make decisions, choose professions, and make sacrifices…for what turned out to be a delusion, a false reality?

These thoughts and this movie came to mind when I was reading a passage in 1 Corinthians 15 recently. Paul spills much ink arguing for the importance of a real bodily resurrection for believers when Jesus comes back. Within the discussion Paul reminds his readers that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, if this was all some sort of a delusion, then Paul’s preaching was in vain as was their faith.

He then writes this verse: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

As I read it I thought, “If this were all a delusion, and I died 60 years from now…would anyone pity me?”

Paul defined the Christian life in such radical ways that he thinks the true Christian would be pitied in this hypothetical situation.

Would you be pitied? Why or why not? I could attempt an answer, but I’ll steal John Piper’s answer for I am sure it will be far better. The following is found in his Desiring God (a wonderful read which can be found in our bookstore).

“The answer seems to be that the Christian life for Paul was not the so-called good life of prosperity and ease. Instead, it was a life of freely chosen suffering beyond anything we ordinarily experience. Paul’s belief in God and his confidence in resurrection and his hope in eternal fellowship with Christ did not produce a life of comfort and ease that would have been satisfying even without resurrection.”

What compels us to live sacrificially like this?

If we understand what we’re living for. It’s not for “this life only.” It’s for a future life with glorified bodies in the presence of Christ and God the Father, in the New Heavens and New Earth where sin reigns no more.

My life doesn’t look like what Piper describes because I often don’t live in light of the resurrection. That’s why I’m not sure I’d be pitied at the end of my life if this were all a delusion.

But there is hope for me and for you. It’s in a promise found in Philippians 1:6 –

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

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