Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints: #1 Zombies

 


Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints #1 Zombies

 The Halloween decorations are up, must be October.  Good time to talk about harvest in the fields of the Lord, to examine how we can evangelize our neighborhood, how to be about the business of bringing in the sheaves. Instead, I want to consider Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints over the next four weeks.

 A genre of horror movies that just won’t die is tales of zombies. Zombies remind me of those Black Friday shoppers with a need to consume.  In the chaos of false need, you see people waiting in lines for hours and then fighting over some trinket, latest toy, or new technology.  What are they thinking? In Black Friday behavior you see the decay of social order, anarchy, and terrorism, at least terrorism of your bank account.  You see the loss of humanity and that’s what zombie movies are all about.   

 It seems like every month a new post-apocalyptic zombie move is released for our entertainment.  If you can get past the stupidity and the gore these movies tell us something about the culture in which we live.  Film aficionados, movie critiques, are always analyzing the media for its subtle hidden messages about life. Zombie movies by in large are about something we fear and what we can do to protect ourselves, to escape the danger, to create a whole new world free from the mistakes of the past, but in the end…

 The easiest culture critique that you can highlight in a zombie movie is our consumer culture.  We are the mindless horde that consumes everything in our path.  In the process of consumption, we destroy the world in our never-ending quest for more.  Almost every zombie movie has a survivor watching as zombies are feasting on one of the former survivors, only to look up and go after the living. Not even done with one meal and up for another.  That’s pretty disgusting.  There is no peace, no contentment, no satisfaction, there is only the driving compulsion for more.  There is no celebration, there is no happiness, just off to the next thing often before you finished with the meal of life before you, that’s an example of hell on earth

 Proverbs 27:20 (MSG)

Hell has a voracious appetite, and lust just never quits.

 Have you noticed that zombie movies rarely have happy endings?  Unless there is going to be a sequel most of our protagonists, the good guys and gals, aren’t going to make it. They are going to fall victim to unstoppable forces.  The subtle message is there is no hope.  Mankind is going to be doomed.  Do you have a fear that everything is going to turn out bad?  Maybe it’s the self-suppressed knowledge that we are going to die? 

 Psalms 103:15-16 (MSG)

Men and women don't live very long; like wildflowers, they spring up and blossom, But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here.

 Friends, without Jesus, there are no happy endings. 

 The modern-day zombies are a lot faster than they used to be.  The first zombies were depicted as stumbling groaning corpses, easily evaded, but in such overwhelming numbers that there is no escape.  The later zombie movies have fast flesh-eating monsters; some can even think and team up to take down the survivors.  Our culture is fast-moving.  Sometimes it feels that we are caught up in a race with no finish line, a race that is set to devour us. In a zombie movie, it’s always killing them or be killed, a picture of our dog-eat-dog world, of caring only for ourselves.  They are not called the walking dead for nothing.

Galatians 5:15 (NIV)

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

 In most of our modern zombie movies, the zombies seem to have a hive mind, there isn’t any independent thought.  They usually don’t do well on their own. So they clump together, creating a horde, then there is no independent action. Zombies don’t reflect, they don’t engage in critical thinking, they just react, no planning, just stimulus-response with the overwhelming desire to infect you, to make you like them. When they are not active in trying to devour you they go into a kind of stupor, asleep while standing, oblivious to everything until there is some activating event that sets them off on their instinctual ravenous desires.

 Colossians 2:8 (NIV)

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

 In watching a zombie movie have you urged the survivors to do something they’re not?  Don’t open the door!  Put your cell phone on silent! Geico, the insurance company, put out a 30-second commercial called “Horror Movie: It’s What You Do.”  A small group of friends is running from something horrible, they emerge in front of what looks like a haunted house, one guy says let’s hide in the attic, a gal says no, let's go to the basement, while another says why don’t we just get into the running car when the other guy says “Are you crazy” Let's hide behind the chain saws.”  Zombie movies often motivate us to ask the question:  What would I do, if that were me? Your answer tells you a lot about yourself. What can you do right now, what are the right decisions, the right moves?  You do know that the Holy Spirit gives all those who ask for it discernment, to choose what is right?

 We’re living in zombie culture.  Unrestrainable consumerism, always wanting more than enough. The media constantly feeding us stories to make us afraid, stories with the prognosis that it will end unhappily ever after.  Unreasoned violence is everywhere from a sucker punch on the streets of New York to mass shootings at birthday parties in California.  Anarchy erupts, the rule of law and order evaporates. Let’s pass more laws and then defund the law enforcers. Everything is moving fast, changing faster than we can keep pace. When it’s not moving fast we’re in a stupor, just plain worn out, unaware of what is going on around us.  We’ve become cannibalistic, devouring one another by looking out for only our interests. What’s in it for me?  Were caught up in the mob of humanity controlled by passion in the heat of the moment, in the face of the current crisis, instead of employing rationality and logic to the problems we face, We’ve become overly emotional not thinking through the various solutions to a problem, not proactive but reactive. My mind is made up; don’t confuse me with the facts. We get swept along with the horde.

 Zechariah 14:12-13 (MSG)

GOD will visit them with a terrible plague. People's flesh will rot off their bones while they are walking around; their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongues in their mouths; people will be dying on their feet! Mass hysteria when that happens—total panic! Fellow soldiers fighting and killing each other—holy terror

 This happens in every culture that turns its collective backs on God.  When people reject God they become the walking dead, alive physically, dead spiritually.

 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (MSG)

Don't be naïve. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people.

 You can even become a zombie Christian having a form of godliness but no power…

2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.

 Zombie Christians.  What a movie that would be!  We would see the undead sitting in pews groaning out hymns, listening to the zombie preaching telling them that all is well, that there is nothing wrong, stumbling out of the church to consume.  No thinking is required.  No reasoning is necessary.

Zombie Christians have religion, they have the form, they go through the motions.  They are near to Godliness, they see it, but they don’t have it.  They might even attend church.  They might even stand during singing worship times.  They might even give some of their money to support the congregation.  They might even show up for a workday.  But it’s all form, it’s respectable, it’s appreciated, but it lacks Godliness.

 Godliness is an experience of power at work within you, making you alive.  This power brings you to repentance and faith.  Repentance means acknowledging your life is not aligned with the life of Christ, and out of sync with God, your life is full of bad relationships.  Repentance means you’re sick and tired of how your life is going. Depressed, lonely, anxious, aimless, disillusioned, bored, disappointed, and miserable, you’re desperate for a change, a life make-over. Faith is believing that Jesus can and does reconcile you to God which avails you to the power to change. Godliness is experiencing the power of being drawn and bonded to God. 

Are you experiencing this power of Godliness or is God on the periphery of your life?  Is God your second thought, obeying God when convenient, God is only important when you’re in trouble you can’t handle? Here’s a word for you if you feel you might be a Zombie Christian:

Ephesians 5:14 (NIV)

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

 You can experience the power of Godliness in your life right now.  This power justifies, saving you from your sin. This power sanctifies, transforming your life so that you can live your life to the full.  This power glorifies, you become a conduit for God to manifest his power, his miracles, his gifts in our midst, and after this life is over, brings you into glory (1 Corinthians 12:7, John 14:12).

 Godliness is experiencing a great change of heart, your values change, your desires change, your goals change, the way you deal with yourself and others change, from self-centered concerns to us-concerning, from me to we (Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17). 

 The power of Godliness helps you navigate the paradox of knowing you are near to God while being far away from Him.  You navigate learning only to discover you have so much more to learn through consecration.  We’ve talked about bending the knee to God, that’s what consecration is all about. Consecration leads to concentration on seeking first the Kingdom of God and let everything else submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 6:33, Galatians 5:25).

 Seeking first the kingdom is to love.  To love God as demonstrated in our obedience to His commands, to His agenda, to His way, is how we put the kingdom first (1 John 5:3).  To love others is to use your resources, your time, talent, money, you presence, not to hand put but extend a helping hand up, meeting a need someone has, encouraging them to seek God also (Matthew 7:12)

 Experiencing the power of Godliness your life fills with the fruit of the Spirit: “..love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” these pour out when you are frustrated, when you are angry when you are annoyed when you hit your little toe on the table. (Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT).  You know peace, content with enough, not needing more than enough to meet your needs.

 Are you experiencing the power of Godliness or is your life just like those who do not know Jesus?  Zombies.  The need for a paycheck is the motivator for life. Got to have a paycheck, I owe, I owe so off to work I go.  You woe to work in a job that is just a means to a paycheck, drinks after with that good looking co-worker, go home exhausted, sit in front of the TV watching Housewives of Orange County till you pass out from the boredom, and drag your carcass into bed, to fitfully sleep, wake up tired, and do it all again.  Maybe you can stick a once-a-year vacation into that mind-numbing schedule. This kind of life can end today. 

 Are you experiencing the power of Godliness or do you just have a form of religion?  Going through the motions, a dabbler in faith, holding back, not thinking, not discerning, but just going along with the Christian crowd if it isn’t too inconvenient. That kind of life can end today.

 Want God, desire God, follow God, put God first, look away from yourself and focus on God, become passionate to be with Him, to continually sense His presence and you will exchange a form of godliness for the real thing.


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