A billion people I know love The Walking Dead. Mind you, I sometimes wonder why, but to each his own. Because of this, at one point I decided to try The Walking Dead and see if the show is good. I came away enjoying some of the story (which doesn’t say much since I can enjoy almost any story) but not really liking the show in general. Honestly, I just don’t love gore and morally ambiguous good guys.
To the point of my post, though. The other day I was listening (in my head, of course) to “Forgiven” by Relient K around the same time that I was imagining how to share the Gospel with someone. I don’t really remember how the train of thought went, but I did come to think of something that may seem startling from these lyrics:
‘Cause we’re all guilty of the same things
We think the thoughts, whether or not we see them through
So a thought struck me. I, along with the rest of the human race, am a monster.
Does this seem far fetched? I don’t think so. See, we all have had moments in our lives where we realized that there was something wrong deep within us. There are times when we think or feel things so shocking that we don’t believe they came from our own hearts. Yet we know the truth. We have all had that realization that somewhere within our souls lurks a monstrous demon who is somehow a real part of us.
“Maybe this is true for you,” you might say, “but I am not that way.” But are you so sure? Maybe I am the only one, but I suspect you all have had the thoughts that prove this. Maybe you’ve caught yourself entertaining the potential benefits if someone you love were dead. I would bet good money you have had an impulse to grab the nearest object and bash someone’s head in. With near certainty I expect you have sometimes felt a hint of fury at someone who has done nothing wrong. Will I judge you for this? No, because I didn’t come up with these out of thin air. I know them from my own experience.
Somewhere within our souls lurks a monstrous demon.
And of course it is not as though we usually embrace these thoughts. For various reasons, we tend to reject them, whether for reasons of convenience, social convention, affection, duty, or a sense of right. Because we reject them, we think of ourselves as basically good. When we realize what we are, we rarely embrace the truth and live like that (those who do are generally considered sociopaths, though I posit they are more true to their nature than most of us). Instead, we deny it, forget it, suppress it, or defy it. Yet this doesn’t amount to much. No matter what the reason, no one will bother to applaud a man for not becoming a demon, but they will rightly condemn him for having such a powerful impulse in his soul. And this is who you are. You are that man. But, again, I cannot judge, because I am, too.
Unfortunately, though I will not judge you, there is Someone who will. For a man named Jesus died and rose again, and God has declared Him Lord over all the earth. He is coming back to judge the living and the dead, and when He does, we’re dead. Or at least we should be.
This is where most people get tripped up. Not thinking of the truth, not realizing or admitting the beast within, we protest when Jesus speaks of hellfire. When God declares a sentence of death, most of us want to say this is unfair. How could a good God do that to us sweet little angels? Yet we ignore the truth. We are monsters, and we deserve it.
For this reason I bring up The Walking Dead. In many ways, our state is similar to that of the Walkers (zombies, for those of you who have not seen the show). Like them, we are not truly alive, at least not from the start. Even though we move around in this world, we are dead and diseased. Just as they are no longer considered human, so we are barely recognizable as humans the way God meant for humans to be. Even our story is similar. In The Walking Dead, every person on earth is infected with a disease, and when they die it turns them into a zombie. Likewise, just as Paul said, we are all infected by sin, and in our case when God’s Law comes, sin comes to life and we die, becoming similarly monstrous creatures. Most importantly, like Walkers, in this state we are a threat to all that is good and right in the world. In our state of death, we are dangerous to those who are alive.
When God declares a sentence of death, most of us want to say this is unfair. Yet we ignore the truth. We are monsters, and we deserve it.
This brings me back to the point of judgment. We are as much monsters as the zombies are, and no one blames Rick when he shoots a Walker in the skull. In fact, when people stubbornly refuse to kill them, but instead treat them as worthy of life, we viewers tend to get frustrated with them. “They’re monsters!” we shout. “Kill them already! Don’t let them live or they will destroy you!” Good guys kill Walkers, and those who don’t are usually ignorant, deceived, or plain evil.
In the case of us, there is only one human left. Only one man has ever gone through life without succumbing to the disease which makes us into monsters. He is Jesus. So Jesus is left in the position of being the only human left, surrounded by monsters. Yet He has done something amazing. See, Jesus knows who we really are. He knows that this monstrous state is not who we would be except for sin. And He loves us. He loves humanity, and because of this He saves us, too. He took the disease of sin on Himself and went down to the grave, but He was stronger than even death, so though sin died Jesus rose again, bringing life back to all who believe in Him. When we eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, which we would expect to turn Him into one of us, He brings us back to His life! So the brilliance of the Gospel shows us that by dying, Jesus undid the disease which killed us all and made us monsters, so now we can live again as human beings. Unlike the zombie virus, for which there seems to be no cure at all, Jesus cures us from sin and death. And this grace is made even more marvelous when we realize that, also unlike Walkers, we remained willing slaves of our sickness!
Good guys kill Walkers, and those who don’t are usually ignorant, deceived, or plain evil.
Still, one problem remains. Not all come back to life. Not all will join Jesus and those to whom He has given life. So what to do with them? This is judgment. Jesus is rebuilding the world. He is taken a creation which has been polluted and broken by the effects of sin and recreating paradise. And monsters have no place in paradise. For this reason they will all die, an eternal death. Everyone who is not with Jesus is still walking dead, and to protect His people and restore this world they will be judged. Yet how can we blame Him? Like I said before, we’re as bad as the zombies, and good men shoot Walkers. If God didn’t judge sinners, He couldn’t be the good guy. He would be naive, confused, apathetic, or worse. What should be more troubling to us than God’s wrath against sinners is His grace towards sinners. Who would show kindness to a zombie?
When we eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, which we would expect to turn Him into one of us, He brings us back to His life!
As a final note, when I say that “we are the walking dead,” I am referring to our state in sin. A monster is what we become because of sin, but in this world that is not always obvious. Like I said, there are social pressures, personal affections, laws, pleasures, and other reasons to hide our evil. And since we all were meant to be alive, since we all were made humans in God’s image first, we know that this monster is bad and try to hide it. Yet in another sense the monster within is not who we really are, no more than a Walker is the same person as it was when it was alive. Humanity is good. Humans are good and wonderful creations. That is our nature. Yet sin infects and corrupts beyond recognition. Also, when Jesus brings us back to life, we are not really this kind of monster anymore. Some of that diseased, rotting flesh still clings to us, but we have been made new. We are human and alive now by the power of the Holy Spirit. We’ve simply spent so much time in this world of death that sometimes we still act like a monster, and the impulses of that old instinct still crop up at times. Yet that is not who we are now. Now we are alive!