I’ve been reading a lot of manga lately. Manga is the Japanese form of the graphic novel. To just call it Japanese comic books is an understatement. I’ve been reading the more tame versions, the shonen ones. That is, the ones for teen boys. Even with these the artwork is amazing and brilliant. One such manga that I’ve gotten hooked on is Bleach by Tite Kubo.
Bleach is about a teenager named Ichigo. Ichigo can see dead people. He has what is called strong spiritual power. He has a strong sense of devotion to his friends and to the cause of helping the helpless. Now, that within itself it an interesting premise. But the author/artist Kubo takes it a bit further. Ichigo also learns of the Soul Reapers who are part of the Soul Soceity. Think of it as a group of ninja grim reapers. But more awesome.
The series deals with death. It deals with fighting bad spirits and helping good spirits. It deals with the idea that there is more to life than just this earthly coil.
I’ve dealt with a lot of death over the last two years. I’ve stood at too many gravesides. I’ve preached in front of too many caskets. And then I read a manga series about death.
I find Kubo’s take on death and the afterlife so interesting. The afterlife stinks. The Soul Reapers talk of how wonderful it is when displaced good souls/spirits move on to the afterlife. Yet when you visit the afterlife in the series, it basically sucks. You’re in the same mess you were in before but now you’re dead. You’re separated from family. You’re stuck where you’re at. And if you wind up in the wrong district, well, you’re just out of luck.
This is what strikes me about death. What happens afterwards. Death is but a transition in many cultures and many worldviews. Once we die, we go somewhere, we do something. In Bleach, Kubo takes us to yet another realm filled with pain and anguish, filled with injustice, filled with crime. Basically the same crap we deal with here on earth just there you’re dead.
That’s what I like about the resurrection. There’s more to it than just dying. There’s more to it than going over to another realm. In fact, the resurrection isn’t a promise of another realm. It’s a promise of being here. On earth. In an improved earth. In an improved world. There will be no more pain. There will be no more sorrow. There will be no more injustice. There will be no more need for blood pressure meds or arthritis.
That’s the promise of the resurrection. In Kubo’s take on the afterlife, you move from one place to another. You are a citizen of one place and then move to a citizenship to another realm. Not so with the resurrection. For those who’s hope is in Jesus we know our citizenship stays in one place.
Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21
In other words, dude’s gonna change us. We won’t be just the same, but better. We’ll be glorified. Just like Jesus when he exited victorious from the grave, we will be like him in every way when he returns.
If I thought I’d live a life like Kubo draws after I die, I know I’d live a lot differently than I do now. But I know that the resurrection is true. And because of Jesus being raised from the grave victorious, I know that I will one day do the same. My home isn’t here. My home is with Him. And when the time comes, the whole world will be made like it was supposed to be made in the first place.
Until then, I live my life differently. I’m not going to be a wandering soul. I’m not going to be some person moved from one realm to another. No. I live today knowing where I belong. I live today knowing to whom I belong. I live today knowing that one day I’ll be with Jesus, standing with him in a remade world, remade perfect.