You just know you’re talking to a Seventh-day Adventist when “The State of the Dead” haunts your conversation. Yes, an exhaustive and, usually, exhausting list of deeds to be done and sins to be shunned between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset, comes a clear undisputed first on the list of SDA symptoms but “The State of the Dead” comes in a close second.
I have heard more than my fair share of graphic passionate descriptions of steadily decomposing corpses, waiting for either eternal life or eternal death. So, I wonder if we shouldn’t try to be a lot less morbid about it all, because the flip side of “The State of the Dead” is the more vibrant “State of the Living”. In other words, what are the implications of my belief in the nature of man in my life today? Let’s leave the cemetery for a bit.
During an afternoon stroll, a friend asked why my community of faith was so obsessed with health. Out popped my rehearsed reply,
“Well, God can only communicate with you through your brain, so a healthy body leads to a healthy brain…”
“No,” he shook his head with vigour, “God speaks to you through your spirit. Now I understood why he often pounced on unsuspecting schoolmates with,
“Do you know that you’ve never seen me?” With bubbling excitement, impervious to the arched eyebrows and sneer-curled lips all around, he would continue, “the real ME is the spirit-man inside.”
Therein lay the first implication. We could both go through the tastebud-vandalizing culinary agony of spinach but it would have divergent meanings for us. In his case, good health would be an extra, a fringe benefit while he his spirit-man connected with God and waited to quit this realm for heavenly bliss.
In my case, good health, among other things, is imperative for clarity of communication with God. It is the difference between SMS and LTE. Believing that I am a soul, instead of having one, means I cannot divorce spiritual reality and physical.
The implications grow deeper. I cannot leave my brain at the church gate (an ideal we still struggle to live up to) but must bring it in with me so I can bow before God as a complete being. It means faith and reason must work together, be it in worship or study.
The opposite is also true. As much as I cannot leave my brain at the church gate, I cannot leave God locked up in church when I leave either. This is true for all Christians but especially for me, my spirituality and physicality are inseparable. They are not parallel realities. It gets tougher.
There is an important question that arises: how is my community better off because of my faith? This is a question that every Christian must answer but for me, it is stricter. My social involvement, both personal and systemic, is a direct litmus test of my spirituality because the Kingdom of Heaven, for me, is not only spiritual but physical as well.
As I continue to plumb the meaning of “The State of The Living”, I find deeper, more serious and happier implications for my worldview and life. It is so much more than a morbid fascination with death but a call to duty and abundant life.
Oh, and that friend? Despite our differences in understanding vis-a-vis anthropological dualism, my respect for him is undiminished. He is a splendid guy – resolute in the face of crushing difficulties and buoyant despite tragedy. A God-fearing man he is, and one I look up to.