The first time I tuned in to watch The Walking Dead I was expecting a show about zombies to be…well…about zombies…and sure, it is. Kind of. One of the key facets about the show and the original comics is this: the zombies aren’t the main characters. I’m not sure I would classify them as secondary characters either – they’re just…well…there.
Sure, they move around in herds and overrun the Army and cause the complete implosion of civilization as we know it, but the show focuses more on the living than it does the dead. In fact, the first season’s tag line was “Fight the dead. Fear the living.” So let’s focus on our undead friends here.
Everybody knows what a zombie is, right? The long and the short is this: zombies are people who die, but then come back to life and crave raw meat, mostly of the human variety. For the full treatment of the subject, I recommend Max Brook’s authoritative and exhaustive work on the subject: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead.
So anywho, back to The Walking Dead.
They crazy thing about watching the show is this: you eventually start to feel bad for some of these zombies. One of Rick’s first encounters with the undead is now referred to as bicycle girl. She’s obviously been torn asunder (going KJV on you there) and she drags herself ever so slowly groaning and moaning. She sees Rick and her reaction is to chase him…she looks up and starts chomping and biting the air; pulling herself closer to Rick…and Rick picks up a bike and rides away. But I was sad when I saw it – and Rick apparently is too when he returns to talk to her and put her out of her misery.
They roam the earth endlessly, already dead – constantly hungry. They are driven by the base desire to feed…A LOT. They are motivated by one thing: hunger.
They will do anything to get food…shred their faces off through glass, get broken in half and drag themselves after their prey, stand for days waiting for food. Beat down fences and doors by sheer numbers. It’s their only purpose – feed and feed often. They are completely controlled by their appetite. They are a being consumed with consuming.
As I watch the zombies I can’t help but feel sorry for them, yes. But an even stronger feeling I can’t shake is that I am exactly like them. I have pursued (still fall into it some days now) my appetites relentlessly. I sacrificed my body. I gave up my life. I didn’t care as long as I got what I was craving. Whoever I had to hurt, whatever the cost, however much time I had to devote – I did it to fulfill my craving.
That’s the thing about us humans; we are so easily swayed by our passions and pleasures that we can mindlessly roam through life surfing on the adrenaline of our appetites. But when we do that…we become a shell. We die. Remember in the last post how we talked about the beginning? When Adam and Even walked with God in a perfect relational community? But then how we were deceived into following our desires and died, not physically but spiritually. Remember how we saw perfection in Genesis severed by sin and it’s gangling nasty, far-reaching and ever-growing tentacles now stretch throughout creation killing everything it touches? When it touches us – we die…but the crazy thing is this: we’re still alive! We can relate to The Walking Dead so well and become so emotionally invested in it for one simple reason: We ARE the walking dead!
In fact, Scripture gives the original definition of zombies. Paul writes about this to the Philippian church:
“18 For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth.” (Phil. 3:18-19, NLT)
My appetites a god? Absolutely. Think about it. What drives you? Where is your passion? What if we changed “passion” to “appetite?” Whoa – it just got real. What are you chasing after? Sex? Success? Approval of others? The perfect self-image? Power? Politics? Money? The perfect relationship? I could go on and on ad nauseum here. We pursue the things that drive us on the most basic level.
Jesus says it like this:
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:21, NIV)
I’m going to pursue whatever is in charge of my heart. I’m going to be passionate about my desires. I’m going to go at them full-throttle. However, if I misplace my passions; if I focus and prioritize on the wrong things…then my life will have been a waste. I will wonder the late, great planet earth as nothing more than an empty shell. A decaying echo of who I once was. A faint shimmer of the glory of the beginning.
This all sounds like some kind of hopeless rambling at this point, but don’t miss it: it doesn’t have to be that way. As Pink Floyd sings, “And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but its sinking, racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.” We get one shot at this – seventy some years if we’re lucky…but that 70 years is a blip on the radar in comparison with forever. God is the restorer. God is the healer. God is the only priority you ever need. When your passion is him, your passion will always be life – not death, decay, and destruction.
God specializes in waking up the walking dead. But first, you’ve got to admit you are a zombie. So when are you going to let him?