I was working on my resume the other day, and one of the things I put on there is that I have a desire to understand how things work. I am often asking Why? How? What? Why does it happen like that?, why could it not go like this? Why is that important, how does it make a difference? what is the context? But as I put it on my resume I realised that I asked these questions not oy at work or in my studies, but also in my faith too. I am a rational person with a university education and I approach most things from a rational perspective. My faith was no different, it turned out. I have dived into many books and teachers and discussions to get deeper understanding and clearer pictures of what things mean.
In my search for explanations and understanding I have turned to Christian (theological) discussion groups on Facebook. Though not all discussions are equally conducive or open minded, I have read some really meaningful and helpful comments on there. I have even asked some questions and gotten good responses that did get me to understand things better, or look at it from a different perspective. But there had been one question I had long been too afraid to ask. I felt ashamed that I did not understand this thing. Because this thing was so fundamental to Christianity, so basic and so crucial; the resurrection.
I was raised in a catholic church. I grew up on the story that Jesus died and rose after three days, and that that was a miracle. In my teenage rebellion and rational mind I didn’t believe in miracles, so it was just a fairy tale to me. But I did know the story, because, like I said it is fundamental to Christianity. However, for the past two years I have been told another story. Namely that the resurrection was not the only miracle to happen in that weekend so long ago. The other miracle says that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to become our sin, and suffer for it, so that we are forgiven. Christ died to save me from my sins. They died with Him. That, to a lonely girl, overwhelmed by responsibility and change and lack of control, is a much better miracle. So, I latched onto that. I drank in that love, and reveled in what it meant to be so overwhelmingly, recklessly loved, that nothing could ever change it. So for the past two years I have explored that miracle, and sort of forgot about the other one.
But lately, during my many hours of my explorations, the resurrection kept coming up. I dismissed it; because Jesus loves me, He saved me, my sins died with Him. That was my confession and pretty much all I needed. I never related that to the resurrection, partly because that first miracle outweighed the other, in my mind. But God is persistent, and the term kept coming up. Specifically in a way that seemed to suggest that the miracle of love and forgiveness I had been so lost in, really might only have meaning because of the resurrection. But that seemed odd to me, because Jesus loves me, He saved me, my sins died with Him. The resurrection didn’t change that.
God, though, was tenacious and persistent. It was a topic I could no longer ignore, so I finally dove in. My research question was basically “Why does the resurrection make a difference?”. With that, I went down the rabbit hole. I have since come out, and I realized that I was looking for too simple of an answer or in any case an answer out of context. I still don’t fully know why. I don’t think I really grasp what Paul means when he says
“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.”
1 Corinthians 15:18.
In my other forms of research, I pretty much google and read or what what Google gives me. Google isn’t judgmental. But it was also not giving me what I wanted to know. So I gathered up my courage to ask this question in a Facebook group. I was so worried, that I might be condemned for such a basic question. And people did react with shock that I lacked of knowledge of fundamental doctrine (I have since posed the question what actually is doctrine). But most people responded kindly, trying to explain it to me. Sometimes they were humble enough to say that it was just how they saw it, and other times they presented it (pardon the pun) gospel. I gained wonderful new insights from that discussion, but I didn’t get my answer.
I still don’t know why the empty tomb validates the cross. People have told me that the resurrection proved that Jesus was who He said he was. But then I thought that any of the other miracles did the same thing, especially if you combine them. Other people have simply told me that if Jesus hadn’t risen the whole of Christianity would have crumbled. I would then be frustrated, because that didn’t answer my question. I had already gathered that people thought that way, but I was trying to figure out why. And to a certain extent I stil don’t know. I have learned that it has something to do with my eternal life. I am a follower of Jesus and I have faith in Him, so I will have eternal life, And I think that what Paul claims in the Corinthians verse above, is that without the resurrection eternity would not be open to us. That because Christ died, but rose again, so can we, when He returns.
And that is exactly where my problem lies. My faith journey has not yet brought me to the topic of eternity or the second coming. As far as I have been able to grasp it, and understand it, the resurrection gives meaning to the cross by making us fit for eternity. That if Christ hadn’t risen, the sins would only be forgiven for my own lifetime. But with all due respect, my own lifetime, at the moment, is enough for me to deal with, without having to worry about eternity. I don’t really understand that either, or how it works. And if the resurrection gets its meaning in the light of eternity; then it is understandable that I don’t understand the former, if I don’t understand the latter. That is not to say that I will not understand it in the future, because I really do believe that I will. I am on a journey and I am still growing.
Humility in accepting your own limitations
So that’s where I am right now. You may wonder was the point was. I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to. But I have made progress. I now know that I have other topics to study in the future. I have accepted that my faith is indeed a journey, and that I will not know it all at once. I also now know that faith rarely gives simple answers and that God will challenge me in my assumptions. All in all it was a humbling experience, to encounter my own limitations in something I had considered my strength: knowing how and why things work the way they do.