This week all across the world people are journeying with Jesus to the cross and will awaken on Sunday to find an empty tomb. The disciples ran when hearing word that the stone had been rolled away. Immediately after seeing the emptiness of the tomb, their thoughts took them to the most reasonable answer, Jesus body was stolen. Only later would they receive clarity to help them truly have their eyes opened to a new understanding of faith. Just as the disciples we have to interpret what that empty tomb means for us and our spiritual walk.
I think the experience of the disciples is similar to many going through a faith transition or crisis. Faith Transitions are painful! What we once clung too is now a hurtful remembrance of the changes happening in our beliefs. We feel alone, and lost. Our mind goes back and forth on what to actually live out in our lives. We fear the unknown. Often we feel others seem to not understand forcing us to continue to deny the questioning taking place in our heads.
Just as the disciples found, faith is a journey with ever changing knowledge and experiences that lead us to places far beyond our imagination. The empty tomb symbolized new growth as their faith transitioned into something greater.
So let's explore the empty tomb and how it relates to faith transitions. This may be small changes in our beliefs to major overhauls.
A Journey Of Questions
Jesus resurrection always brings many questions. For some its a matter of how the events transpired for others they ask did it really happen. Was this just a way for the early Christians to carry on Jesus' name or was Jesus really the son of God that resurrected on the third day?
No matter your stance, the empty tomb brings questioning. When we begin to question our beliefs or ask why we do certain things it can cause uncertainty. Our brains are wired for routine and assurance. It provides stability and safety. However curiosity is a natural part of our spiritual journey and should be upheld rather than discouraged. When it is upheld spiritual communities support and guide individuals to find answers.
Here is a short video by Mike Licona who tries to answer the difficult questions presented above with historical evidence giving us one way of how to work through difficult questions in our faith.
The Empty Tomb Brings Growth
Faith journey's call us to move out into the unknown world beyond our comfort zone. God is the great mystery! So when we find the empty tomb in our life, we are also given a new opportunity for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth comes from seeing with new eyes and responding with faith.
Whenever we gain knowledge we grow as individuals. Natasha Helfer Parker's article, "What is a Faith Transition?" provides 6 suggestions for people working through faith crises. She reiterates "shifts in faith are a normal part of the journey."
In July 2018, I wrote an article titled "Stages of Faith" reviewing Fowler's 6 stages of faith development. Many times our faith transitions have to do with our own personal development of faith. Thomas Wirthlin McConkie also discusses the development of our faith in this article "In A Mormon Faith Transition." He is the author of the book, "Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis."
Interpreting The World Through Jesus
It's important to remember the Christian faith is built around Jesus and the life he lived. This defining moment in essence tells us God loves us and will never leave us even through death. It is through Jesus and the interactions he had with others that lead us to know who God is and what we are to be about in this world. It is through the inclusion and welcomeness of Jesus that we interpret the world and our beliefs.
Jesus listened, radically welcomed, and questioned the unjust systems in place. He ate with sinners, upheld woman, and spent time with the poor. It is through his life that we learn about God and how to be in relationship with others. Whatever beliefs you have about the empty tomb I find it imperative for you to remember and uphold Jesus and his teachings.
This Easter we get the opportunity to interpret and define our lives through Jesus. The empty tomb brings meaning and hope of growth to us all! The divine becomes real and moves us past our original thinking. If you are struggling with your faith, I sincerely hope you find a welcoming community so you can discover and figure out the next steps on your journey. Remember it's a natural and healthy part of our personal development.
May we all experience the living Christ in our lives!
Happy Holy Week and Easter! I hope this Easter brings you joy!
This week identify what the empty tomb means for you and your walk.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.