But he answered, ‘Leave the dead to bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.’ - Luke 9:60 (NJB)
Zombies are a big fad right now, and I think that is because they represent so many of our deepest fears. Originally, zombies were a kind of symbolism for our fear of disease and plague. However, I think their rise in popularity has come from the deeper darker fears they represent.
What fear do I speak of? The fear of looking into the eyes of those you love, those you care about, those you respect and finding out that the lights aren’t on anymore. I am speaking of the fear of how human beings have the terrifying ability to deceive themselves, judge others, and commit acts of violence, emotion and physical, all while feeling righteous as they do it.
The Cold Stare: “Because God Says So…”
Many of us can recall at least one, (I wish it was just one), conversation where the ability to reason and converse with another person is suddenly cut short with a phrase similar to “because God says so…” All the sudden all humanity is removed and you find yourself in the awkward position of no longer disagreeing with a person, but you are committing blasphemy against the Almighty himself. The person you were talking to has ceased to exist, and now has assumed the role of an Avatar of the Lord.
No matter how convinced I am about my beliefs, I am never comfortable assuming to speak for God.
The Suspicious Glare: “You’re Not Really One of Us…”
Having your own thoughts and opinions on things in a church community can feel like being in the witness stand at a McCarthy hearing. “Oh, you don’t believe in a interpretation of [insert Bible verse] which is the same as mine? Well, you must not really be [insert denomination or just “really saved”].” In just about every church I have been in, most people don’t really care about the details. Sadly, it is the gatekeepers who end up being really concerned about theological divisions. Once they find out you aren’t in line, you might as well be a Nazi spy infiltrating a pure and holy community on behalf of the devil himself.
The Slow Institutional March: “This is God’s House”
Few are more dense and immutable than those who believe God Himself dwells exclusively in the wall of their building. I just had a conversation with a priest who said to me (no exaggeration), “Your soul is in danger if you don’t spend Sundays at our parish.” To which I responded, “The Baptist church down the street told me the same thing a few weeks ago. In fact, I am pretty sure I can find a dozen pastors in a five mile radius to tell me I need to attend their church to be saved. What do you say to that?” Without even blinking, he responded, “Well, they are wrong. We are the right one.”
The Walking Dead: “I Don’t Need to Change, They Do.”
Any cries to reach out to the lost, the poor, or the isolated are met with “they need to change, not us.” “We don’t need to go out to them, they just need to come to church. We don’t need to examine our own prejudices, they just need to conform to our expectations.” (Ok, they don’t actually articulate that last one, that would require self-awareness.) It is infuriating how many people use the institutionality of church, not to challenge themselves to practice love, but to justify their righteousness by their ability to conform with a society around them.
Jesus phrase "let the dead bury the dead" is because a closed mind is an early death. So many people just decide at some point, "That's it for me. No more learning, no more risk taking, no more being uncomfortable. I have enough and just want to protect what I have." We die before we are dead, condemning ourselves to a live of stagnation and checking out of the world around us.
There is No Stopping Them.
Just like how zombies are so hard to kill, the self-deceived righteous are so hard to shake up. They don’t question their convictions, they don’t examine their thinking, they don’t feel an obligation to reason, and they view their closed hearts and empty minds as “faith.” Everyone divergent from them is corrupt as they are the “standard” of holiness. The more you confront them, the more they dig in their heels and affirm they are “on God’s side” and “following God’s plan.”
..and I am Afraid of Becoming One of Them.
“The heart is more devious than any other thing, and is depraved; who can pierce its secrets?” - Jeremiah 17:9 (NJB)
The really scary part about zombies is how they don’t just kill you, they make you one of them. I am passionately dedicated to Jesus Christ, I still call myself Christian, and I still believe in the sovereignty of God. But for every thing in my life I credit to Christ working on my heart and mind, I look around me and see people using the name of Christ to justify so much hate, delusion, and prejudice. So many “church going” people are so unchanging, so stubborn, and so certain about everything. To think how closed the heart and mind can become, even in the presence of the Son of God crying “love one another as I have loved you.” I cannot think I am above such corruption, or immune to the lies of the heart. I am being completely honest when I say it terrifies me. It really does...