Do we need the resurrection to follow Jesus?

Today Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Believing in the resurrection is arguably the tallest order of professing the Christian faith.

Growing up, I believed in the resurrection like I knew the sky was blue: as if it was something I had seen with my own two eyes.

I’m on the brighter side of a decades-long journey: one that endured multiple cases of spiritual abuse and walking completely away from my faith (to escape, to heal, to stand on my own again). Here I am on Easter Sunday with eyes wide open and a heart that is following Jesus even though the Christian faith is full of ridiculous, absurd mysteries and is inhabited by terribly ordinary human beings.

Despite all these "flaws," I choose to remain, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Earlier this week I ran across a video, in which an Episcopal priest talks about the time she asked her parishioners whether or not it matters that Jesus rose from the dead. They answered back earnestly—of course it would matter; it is the cornerstone of our faith!

She proceeded to ask them to consider the story found in Matthew 4:19, where Jesus is at the Sea of Galilee and he calls out to the disciples to “Come, follow me.” It says in this passage that Simon and Andrew “at once left their nets and followed him.”

The priest continued, pointing out to her parishioners that at this point in the story of the Gospel, there was no promise of the resurrection, eternal glory in heaven or a cessation of pain in the afterlife. These promises—cornerstones of our Christian faith today—had not yet been defined or outlined so plainly.

Why would fishermen follow someone like Jesus, without any sort of clear incentive?

I don’t pretend to cast myself in the same lot as the disciples of Jesus. But I deeply relate to this and the priest’s suggestion: that what we see in this story is profound trust, perhaps even an internal knowing the disciples possessed. Whatever it is, something profound reached them and so utterly changed them that they followed Jesus without proof that he was the Son of God.

One of the most frightening things about being on the other side of spiritual abuse is letting people know I’m not certain. That I don’t have utterly blissed-out experiences with Jesus. Nor do I believe the Bible has all the answers to every world problem. I don’t think Jesus came to solve all my problems. I do think he came to be nearer to me, and that is why I follow: because for a thousand absurd and crazy reasons, I think I'm supposed to be near him, too.

As someone emerging from a faith that required certainty of all things and questioning none of them, I’ve found that following Jesus with my doubts and uncertainty is the only way forward.

That’s where I am this Easter Sunday: thinking about how Jesus wants to be near to us, how each day I’m growing more comfortable with uncertainty, with not having verifiable proof. And I'm following anyways.