This Thanksgiving Amanda and I took the kids, my mother, and her dog, on a crazy trip to Arizona, right smack in the middle of an ice storm that made the travelling experience nightmarish – long delays, slippery roads, 360s, late nights, etc. But, when we finally got there, we had a blast, saw the Grand Canyon, hung out in Scottsdale, spent time as a family – good times. One of the coolest things we got to do is to visit my sister’s church, which, it just so happens, was the church that my biggest “man-crush” attends – Kurt Warner!
Even though he wasn’t in attendance that particular day, the service was still a special one for me. You see, the pastor got up to speak and in the middle of his message, he threw in a quote from St. Irenaeus (eye-re-nay-us), a church father type of guy, that blew my mind. Around 150 A.D. he wrote:
The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation already brings life to all living beings on the earth, how much more will the manifestation of the Father by the Word bring life to those who see God.” – Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), IV, 20, 7.
Unfortunately, for the pastor, my mind immediately began to wander, constantly batting around in the confines of my brain what this short phrase really meant – “The glory of God is a man fully alive…”
Think about that phrase with me for a second. What does it mean to you?
Although it spoke volumes to me, for some reason, I couldn’t get away from one central concept — the idea of someone existing in a state where they weren’t “fully” alive, but also not “fully dead,” somewhere in between, zombie-like.
I’ll be the first to tell you – I don’t get the whole cult phenomenon that is our collective infatuation with the specter of a zombie apocalypse. There’s been tons of zombie movies with famous movie stars and television shows like the Walking Dead, which consistently ranks at the top of the charts in cable viewership. There’s survival guides, and even the government has gotten into the mix, their Center for Disease Control, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, creating a public initiative for Zombie Preparedness.
With that said, everyone reading this probably has at least a rudimentary knowledge of these Hollywood creatures.
So, what are some of the things that make a zombie a zombie?
They’re not alive, but they’re not dead either – their just “un-dead.” Zombies continue to exist, moving around at will, but without any sense of real life. No feeling; no caring; no relationship; no perception; with a highly limited sense of awareness.
Zombies are only focused on one thing – trying to satisfy their insatiable appetite. They don’t care about others, even other zombies, they just want to eat — anything warm with a pulse.
Their existence is based on pure randomness – they just wander from place to place with no purpose, no plan; they are free but also enslaved to their condition.
And, they can’t see beyond the immediate, the here and now.
Interestingly enough, there are several Biblical parallels we can make to this zombie phenomenon, those existing somewhere between fully alive and fully dead.
You see, this is how the Word reflects the whole zombie concept.
Ephesians 2:1-4 — And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Before Christ, all of us, each and every one, existed in a place of death – we “lived,” waking each morning, going through the motions — surviving. But, we all knew there was something more, a greater life to be lived. We didn’t know it, but we were existing as if we were the living “dead,” all of our wrong choices, our sins, separating us from God, separating us from true life, separating us from a hope-filled future.
Romans 6:1-14 — What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
The Word says that we were once walking around dead like zombies, dead in our sin, our existence, and our future. But, then Christ! He came and died for us, taking away the disease of sin forever, bringing us back to life, giving us a hope, and removing the sting of death forever. Now, we live, in and through Christ.
Unfortunately, however, even though we have been made new creations (2 Cor 5:17), having been given a new life, we have the tendency to somehow, someway revert back to our old ways, succumbing to the infected world in which we live, the lure of flesh constantly trying to draw us back to that zombie-like state once again.
We see this in the book of Revelation, described as being in a “lukewarm” state again – not fully alive, but not fully dead either:
Revelation 3:15-21 — ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot (another way to say the same thing: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither fully alive nor fully dead’); I wish that you were cold or hot (fully alive or fully dead). So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold (by now you get the picture!), I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous (passionate always) and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
And, in Ephesians 4, we, who have experienced life in and through Christ, are reminded not to let the infected world pull us back into that zombie-like existence again. We have truly lived! Don’t go back to living like zombies again, just surviving, led about only by our own needs and wants, our hearts calloused, cold, and hard.
Ephesians 4:18-24 — So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
You see, in Hebrews 3, the heart-hardening process is explained a little more clearly. It warns us about letting our hearts turn evil and unbelieving, pointing out that sin, in all of its deceitfulness, continues to harden our hearts, little by little, if we stay in it. Just like a weight-lifter who builds callouses unknowingly each time he raises a bar, so too do we callous our hearts every time we sin.
Hebrews 3:12-14 — Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.
To keep this from happening, we have a need to be constantly re-filled, renewed in the Holy Spirit, something only accomplished through daily encounters with Christ. You see, prayer, Bible study, quiet-times, hearing the Lord, obeying His voice, etc. – they really aren’t just faith disciplines – they’re inoculations against the old, zombie-like self. They serve to help us connect again with the Lord, allowing Him into our lives, keeping us alive, reigniting our passion, and, through His gentle conviction, softening our hearts. The faster we are to run to Him, to connect again, even to repent, to turn from our old ways, those momentary bouts with infection, the better able we are to stay fully alive, totally free.
And, when we learn to abide constantly in that place with the Lord, fully dependent upon His abundant grace, we become fully alive – living an abundant life (John 10:10); a life full of meaning and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11, 2 Timothy 1:9, 2 Corinthians 5:18, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 2:10); and a life with a bright future and a fully assured hope (Romans 15:13, John 3:16).