Not In Vain
What you do in the present matters. It’s hard for Protestants to hear that without thinking, "Oh, dear, this is good works again." That’s a scare tactic. Sometimes, it’s a political scare tactic—to stop Christians from actively working to change the way the world is, confronting justice, and building communities of peace and hope instead of ones of violence and hatred. The verse which says it all for me is the last verse in 1 Corinthians. Okay, you’ve got this great chapter on resurrection. What is Paul going to say after writing a whole chapter on resurrection? Is he going to say, "Since there is a resurrection, look up and wait for this glorious future?" No, he says, "Therefore my beloved ones be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." Your work is "not in vain." Why not? Because everything you do in the present, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, everything that flows out of love and hope and grace and goodness somehow will be part of God’s eventual Kingdom. That is the message of the resurrection. The resurrection is your new body in which you will be gloriously, truly wonderfully you. The resurrection means everything you’ve done in the present through your body—works of justice and mercy and love and hope—somehow in ways we don’t understand will be part of God’s new creation. We are not building the Kingdom of God in that old social Gospel sense. We are building for the Kingdom of God.
read the rest of the interview with N.T.Wright on honoring God in everyday life and work here