If you believe in life-after-death, you realize that a person who dies “goes somewhere else.” There is a natural world where we live now, and a spiritual world where our soul or spirit lives after our natural body dies. New Church theology describes a connection between the natural and spiritual world. The Lord loves us, and His purpose for us on this earth is to prepare to be with Him in heaven. So He provides connections that help with this. The most obvious and important is His Word.
While He wants us to be with Him in heaven, He loves us so much that He gives us freedom of choice, so that we can do what makes us happy, so we can do what we truly love in our preparation for the spiritual world (whether we love good, or not-so-good).
In order to keep us in freedom, another form of connection is with spirits, both good and bad. Sometimes a person here can strongly feel the presence of a spirit. Other times, there is a connection which one can barely notice. How many times have you felt there was something you needed to do, but couldn’t tell why? That a friend needed a visit?
“Perception is nothing else than the speech or the thought of the angels who are present with a person.” (Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 5228)
We are constantly hearing thoughts or connections from the spiritual world. Curtis Childs created an entertaining video about this on YouTube.com called Your Brain is Spamming You. But how can we tell whether to act on one of these thoughts? Is it from a good or evil spirit?
“Heaven consists in a heartfelt desire for the good of others rather than one’s own good, and in serving them from the love of making them happy, not for the sake of any selfish hope of reward” (Secrets of Heaven 452).
Think about what is different between a good and evil spirit. The passage above gives a good indication. A defining characteristic is about what they love most: God and others; or self and worldly things. When we have a perception, or when we think we’re having a spiritual connection, we might think about whether the thoughts are looking to the good of others, or for ourselves. While the answer may not be straightforward, it will be a good indicator of the source, and whether to act on it, or ignore it. Or perhaps the thoughts are just trying to make us miserable, which is another indicator that an evil spirit wants you to be as miserable as he is. Prayer is another good way to make sense of these connections. Ask what God would want you to do with the thoughts and experiences.
Pay attention to your perceptions, or spiritual connections, and notice where they are leading you. It can make a big difference in your life, and the life of others.
Rob Andrews is the webmaster of this website (www.newchurch.org) and helps answer inquires of newcomers to the New Church.