Have you ever wondered why there have been so many TV shows and movies about ghosts or spirits of the dead yet wandering earth, either to finish a task, say a proper goodbye to loved ones, or simply to torment others? In that question, I've named two movies, Ghost (1990) and The Others (2001). We could add to this list The Sixth Sense (1999) and many other movies (The Changeling, The Shining, Poltergeist, etc.), as well as TV shows like The Medium (ending in 2011) and Ghost Whisperer (ending in 2010). Of course there is the 1968-1970 sitcom The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, based on the 1947 movie of the same title, and Casper, the Friendly Ghost, from as far back as 1945, re-appearing in the 50s, 70s, and, most recently, in 2012.
I think that this reveals the innate desire in all humans for something beyond this life. We don't want this life to be "all there is." We want life after death, eternal life, something more.
The believer in reincarnation wants to live multiple lives as multiple people or creatures. (I can't imagine coming back as a spider or wasp, two creatures I dislike intensely.) But how confusing it would be to live as different people in different time periods. The latent memories would generate a lot of perplexity and disorder. The idea of it also erodes one's individuality—that belief that each individual (spirit/soul/personality/essence) is unique and different from all others. Besides, the word of God declares that, "It is appointed unto men (people) once to die, but after this the judgment"—Hebrews 9: 27. Though that verse also has a deeper, symbolic meaning, it is no less true on the surface, for "death is the end of all people"—Ecclesiastes 7: 2. So, we couldn't live and die more than once, and especially not as more than one species.
Thus, if we die once (and following Aristotle's logical syllogism, we all are mortal and will die), what happens to us then?
"When you're dead, you're dead," some say. And as for the physical body of flesh, that is so. We do eventually become dust (or ashes if we are cremated). Even those eaten by animals or fish become dust, since we are basically bio-degradable (or bio-destructible).
But what of the spirit, the personality, the soul, the essence of our identity? That thing that Hollywood calls "ghosts" or "dead people," with the implication that, even though dead, we are still "people," not just tissue subject to "bio-deterioration."
Do we wander around on earth looking for closure? Do we all need direction toward "the light" so we can "cross over"? The word of God tells us that when a believer in Jesus Christ dies, our spirit/soul/personality/essence is absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5: 8). That quickly. No time to roam around planet Earth for awhile. Jesus told the repentant and believing thief on the cross, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise" (Luke 23: 43).
So there is a glorious future for those of us who believe. We need not fear death. It is our passage into the very presence of God, our trip to our eternal home.
But what of the non-believer? That will be next week's topic.
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