If you’ve been paying attention to popular television these days, you probably recognize the title of this article. After all, “The Walking Dead” is one of…if not THE…most popular of the TV shows currently in production. (Sunday nights, 9pm, AMC) The story follows the terrifying attempts of survival by a group of people living in a world populated primarily by zombies…or the walking dead. While gory and often gross with the special effects, the show really works because of the interpersonal relationships and the difficult, often heart-wrenching decisions that have to be made by the characters simply to stay alive. (Warning—the scenes are graphic, so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing, you might not want to watch it.)
A little over a week ago, I attended a Bible class with my daughter at Harding University and the professor used this show to make a point. I’m going to borrow his example and make the show an illustration to highlight a couple of things on my mind.
First, I think that we as Christians ARE in fact surrounded by the walking dead….the spiritually dead.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. Ephesians 2: 1-2
All around us are people who are walking through their lives...going to work…going to school…eating dinner…raking their leaves…and they are spiritually dead. They seem fine. They seem alive, and we are lulled into believing that everything is okay. But, the truth is that inside there is no real spark of God, no relationship with their creator. No hope. No future. Their lives are futility leading to futility.
In the TV show, the idea is to avoid the walking dead, and if you can’t avoid them, you hit them in the head in order to make them fully dead. In our world, we must not avoid them. In fact, we are commissioned to seek them out. We are their only chance…because God has given US the role of making new life available to them….making them truly alive.
We don’t hit them in the head…we hit them in the heart!
When was the last time YOU revived a spiritual zombie and gave them a new spark of life directly from the handiwork of your Lord?
Second, I think that sometimes we Christians can find ourselves in danger of becoming the Sitting Dead.
Consider this passage from Revelation…
To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3: 1-3
If this happened to be us, then…We did some good things. We had some good effect. We got a great reputation. People think we’ve got it together. But, the truth is that we have lost that spark of life. We sit complacently by while the work of God goes unfinished. We come in and check off our attendance box on Sunday morning, but have no passion for our Lord. We know what we need to know. We know the good we ought to do. We understand the sacrifice of the Lord. Somehow, though, we have gone to sleep in our spirits! We exist in our church as the spiritually dead, dressed up and sitting in rows.
Is that you? Is that me? Is that us? It happened to our brothers and sisters in Sardis, could it be that it has happened to some of us in our congregation? Do WE need to WAKE UP and REPENT?
I sure hope it’s not us. But, I think that passage isn’t in the Book just for its entertainment value. It is there as a warning. We can build up a reputation and then simply fall off into complacency. We can fall asleep. We can let our spark of spiritual life wane into a dying ember. May it not be us, but how about we consider some questions together…how about we do a little introspection…how about we take our spiritual pulse and see if our hearts are pumping?
A. Who gets more enthusiasm from you on Sunday… Andrew Luck or Jesus Christ?
B. Can people around you sense the music flowing from your heart as you sing?
C. Or, maybe we should just ask if you actually sing?
D. When was the last time you confessed a sin…a specific sin…to another brother or sister?
E. When was the last time YOU invited someone to come to church with you?
Those are just a few questions that we could ask. All I’m really saying, though, is that we need to be aware of two things:
1. Are we concerned about the spiritually dead in the community around us and sharing that spark of life with them?
2. Are we in danger of letting our reputation mask our reality; of becoming a spiritual zombie in the pews?
In that Television show, sometimes the decisions are hard. Uncomfortable choices have to be made to survive. The same is true in our own spiritual lives. It is always easier and more comfortable to ignore the needs of the lost, go through the motions of checking off the church activity boxes, and take a very long spiritual nap. However, if we want to survive…if we want to please our Lord…we need to be awake! We need to be vigilant! We need to strengthen what we have and finish our work.
We need to bring life to the walking dead and rekindle the spark of life in the sitting dead….
They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of LIFE, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Revelation 3: 4b-5