The Walking Dead
One of the most highly watched television shows is AMC’s The Walking Dead. In many ways it is your typical zombie story – apocalyptic guts-and-gore and lots of action set in a dystopian wasteland. A novelty of this particular zombie narrative is that everyone already has the zombie virus in their blood. In other words, regardless of whether you are bitten by a zombie or not, when you die, you reanimate as a zombie.
Which leads to an interesting question… Just who are the walking dead?
Does this title signify the reanimated corpses mindlessly and savagely roaming the earth? Or does it signify the humans living in a lawless land who increasingly only look out for their own self-interest and savagely turn on others if it ensures their safety?
While The Walking Dead is clearly not written from a Christian perspective, it serves as a powerful apologetic in our culture. It demonstrates clearly how so much of our morality, compassion, and charity toward others is held together by a thin veneer of social penalties and rewards. Much of how we act is a result of surface-level expectations, and once society begins to unravel most of us reveal our more selfish and broken selves.
When there are no more carrots to reward us or sticks to punish us… who are we, really?
If we are honest with ourselves, then most of us can acknowledge we are the walking dead. The bible calls this Sin. Sin ravages us. Sin festers in us. Sin exploits our insecurity, fear, and anger until we behave in vindictive, violent, and resentful ways. “For the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23 unflinchingly declares. And the implication is clear. No reward or punishment system is ultimately sufficient to transform the death sin brings. We may act alive, but we all suffer the torments of our broken selves.
Fortunately, Romans 6:23 continues… “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The 40 days before Resurrection Sunday invite us to take inventory of all the ways we are playing games on the surface of our lives, rather than living from the center and Source of our lives in Jesus Christ. Some of us are obviously wasting away in sin’s grip as addictions and deception unravel us. Many more of us are walking around in apparent health while the disease corrupts us from the inside. The remedy is the same for us all. Surrender. The Dead are not reformed. We are resurrected. Nothing to earn. Nothing to prove. No identity to develop. Simply eternal life to receive.
If you’ve been around church for awhile, then you likely have begun this living relationship with Jesus the Christ. You’ve asked him to forgive your sins, come into your life, and lead you. Yet many of us still live lives of outward goodness, while inwardly we struggle with our lack of internal transformation. These days before Easter are when the church corporately hears afresh Jesus’ call to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow.” Jesus calls out to all that is dead within you, to bring resurrection and life.