A Youth Pastor Watches His First Season of the Jersey Shore – Part 3 – If Christ Has Not Been Raised, You Might As Well Live the Jersey Shore Life

One of the most important passages in the entire New Testament is I Corinthians 15. In it Paul talks about the centrality of the resurrection of Jesus, how it defeats death, and offers forgiveness for all humanity. He also has this little line in there, “If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our preaching is useless and your faith is in vein. Later in the chapter he says, “We might as well eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” (vs. 32). He’s quoting that line from a motto in his own culture. Paul was writing this letter in Ephesus then, if he were writing it from almost the same distance away, like maybe Philadelphia today, I wonder if he’d say, “If Christ has not been raised, you might as well live the Jersey Shore life.”

What I mean by that (and I think what Paul means) is that if Jesus isn’t who said He is, you need to find a new religion or a new philosophy of life, because you don’t really have much of one here – after all it all centers on Jesus being alive again. It’s always been interesting to me that Paul says this. He’s a Jewish rabbi and while he broke his allegiances with the traditional Jews, he could have hidden out in a small village, tentmake, return to his pre-Christian Jewish perspectives and wait for the real Messiah. After all, they’ve had failed messiah-figures before.

Now I don’t want this post to get too long but want to mention that the people he is writing to in Corinth are not Jews, but Gentiles. For them, if Christ has not been raised, they are likely not going to convert to Judaism but probably return to the governing philosophies of the day. This makes what he’s saying to them a bit more clear.

In undergrad, I had a theology professor who said, “If Christ has not been raised, then it’s just like that beer commercial, ‘You only go around once – grab all the gusto you can.'” I find this to be a very revealing statement of the entire scope of our Christian faith. Our obedience to God, our morality, our generosity, our kindness to the stranger, etc. is a response to a God who is real and offers life. As Christians, we don’t do these things to secure His favor, mind you, we already have His favor, but rather we live our lives after His example as a reflection of His love and favor.

It’s like Paul saying, “If Christ has not been raised, nothing else really matters except for whatever it is you want to matter”. It’s a huge statement because it puts down other religions and in some ways, if we were to follow the logic, it exalts social darwinism – the strong, the beautiful, and the popular are the ones who who “make it” in this world.

In this world, the Jersey Shore life not only makes sense but arguable is a great way of life. As many have pointed out, celebrities born out of reality tv are fascinating because majority of them are not talented in the same way as our other celebrities like actors, musicians, models, and athletes. So instead of being accountants or working retail, they get paid to do what they like the most – party. What separates the cast of the Jersey Shore from the random people you meet a bar or a club? In some ways – not much. This fame-lottery winning cast was able to capitalize on the buzz of their show and continued in getting people to watch by more or less acting crazy and living it up. They are rewarded for drunkenness, getting arrested, womanizing (and the opposite) because their philosophy of life (their religion) is “get rich and get famous.” (they opening song, “Get Crazy” says as much). And in a world where there is no risen Jesus, not only can we not blame them, but we must congratulate them.

Thoughts? Part 4 Soon …


  1. Tim, I love this thread of posts! First of all, I am fairly certain that Jersey Shore is a sign of the apocolypse. But more importantly, you have hit the theological nail on the head. We are a resurrection people. Without it, Jesus was just a great teacher and a bold talker- who couldn’t walk the walk. Great stuff. I will add this- JWOWW and Snooki and The Situation may be revolting to me- but they are exactly the crowd Jesus would have gone to dinner with. The knowledge of the risen Christ means little without the application of love.

  2. A perceptive and compassionate post. Thanks Tim!

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