“We are more willing to attack one another than to band together and fight the enemy.”
~ Lance Wallnau
In my last blog post, I outlined 4 sobering (and uncommon) observations about ISIS.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the entire article on my blog, there’s a link to it at the bottom of this one.
Now on to another current issue.
AMC’s TV drama The Walking Dead is the highest rated series in cable television history.
I’m not a zombie guy (though some mornings, I might resemble one).
Unlike many of my peers who possess a Y chromosome, slashy-burny-butcher-gore films don’t appeal to me.
It’s for this reason that I’ve stayed clear of watching The Walking Dead.
That is, until a friend told me that the show is largely about surviving in community over against blowing zombie carcasses to the moon.
So I gave it a try. And I was hooked in the first season. (In many ways, The Walking Day is similar to the TV show LOST — which I thought was superb.)
Recently, I finished Seasons 1 to 6 of The Walking Dead.
Beyond the compelling characters, rich storylines, and incomparable acting, the parallels to the spiritual walk are impressive. The gruesome scenes, notwithstanding.
What follows are three critical lessons I observed while watching.
Warning: if you’re one of those befuddled souls who got on my mailing list by some freak accident in a parallel universe, our beloved Blog Manager moderates all comments. So if you write something that’s downright nasty, you’ll be blocked faster than Bill Clinton’s arteries.
Lesson 1: Exposure is Inevitable
You don’t know what people are really like until you observe them under pressure. Only then do their true colors emerge.
(I riffed on this at length in Scratch a Christian and You’ll Find Out What’s Underneath.)
Too often, you can’t see the fruit unless the tree is shaken.
This sober fact is brought out powerfully in The Walking Dead.
People who seemed to be noble characters at first get exposed for being sub-human creatures. No, they aren’t flesh-tearing zombies. They’re worse. More on that later.
Others who seemed to have black hearts end up exhibiting goodness, self-sacrifice, and genuine love.
To wit, never underestimate the kind of exposure that pressure, struggle, offenses, and disappointments manifest.
Another example of being exposed under pressure is the 2009 movie, Exam.
Animal Farm reveals the same thing.
In short, survival brings the best and the worst out in people. And you really don’t know who you are or what you are until a fellow Christian doesn’t meet your expectations. Nor do you know who your fellow “Christians” really are until someone “scratches” them.
This truth separates black sheep from goats. 🙂
Lesson 2: Community is Possible But Costly
I’ve said it often, but Christ-centered community is exotically rare on this earth. By “Christ-centered,” I don’t mean a group of people who talk bulbously about Jesus.
I’m talking about a face-to-face community that evidences by their lives that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord of this world. In other words, Jesus is the practical head of their lives.
This “evidence” is mostly clearly seen in how the members of the community treat one another as well as how they treat those outside of it (Matt. 7:12).
Do they gossip? Do they back-bite? Do they become jealous of one another and sow seeds of discord in the group? Do they become easily offended at each other and take vengeance? Do they impute bad motives to other people? Do they bad-mouth, tear-down, and even lie about one another? If another member is in trouble, do they treat them the same way they’d want to be treated if they were the ones in trouble?
Or . . . do they deny themselves? Do they lay their lives down for each other? Do they have each other’s backs? Do they see themselves as family? Do they place the same priority on the other members as they do on themselves and their own blood kin?
It’s the latter that I mean by “Christ-centered.”
And yes, what I’m describing does exist, but its rarer than chicken molars in our time. (The fact is, most Christians don’t lay their lives down for each other. The common attitude is, “It’s not my problem so I won’t treat it with nearly as much attention or diligence as if it were happening to me.”)
The community that’s formed in The Walking Dead (embodied by the key characters) reflects this brand of “I-have-your-back-and-won’t-leave-you-behind” dynamic. They lay their lives down for each other.
The characters weren’t always this way. In fact, some who were against the community eventually were “converted” to it and became loyal members.
In this regard, the show richly portrays the power of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation. It underscores the beauty of entering into a new family that’s made up of completely different personalities, but who share a common bond.
Sadly, the love and loyalty that the core community has for one another eclipses that found in the hearts of most Christians today.
No, the members of the show’s community aren’t perfect by any means. Just as no believer or Christian community is perfect. Nor am I suggesting that community in the show is “Christian” (so calm down).
Like most modern TV shows, the clergy are made to look like insipid imbeciles and immorality is portrayed as acceptable. So it’s not a “Christian” TV program. But the power of close-knit, devoted community is presented powerfully.
Lesson 3: Endurance is Required
Another lesson that’s brought out in the show is the power, and need for, endurance.
Jesus said “He/she who endures until the end shall be saved.”
It’s one thing to start out strong in the Christian walk. It’s another to finish.
Things are easy for a time. Then someone hits the warp drive and you’re trying to navigate through the blur.
It’s during those times that the pressure to quit following the Lord seriously become too unbearable for some. But keep in mind that being on the ropes isn’t the same as bleeding out.
Sometimes you have to spew over the side of the boat and keep rowing.
The older I get, the more people I meet who shipwrecked their faith (to borrow Paul’s phrase). These people were once ready to charge hell with a water pistol. Today, however, they don’t even believe in God.
And it’s not because some college professor told them that a person must have an IQ lower than a carrot to believe the Bible. No, it’s mostly because of unanswered prayers coupled with the deplorable way that some “Christians” treat those who genuinely follow Christ.
And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all ‘believers’ are believers. But the Master never lets us down. He’ll stick by you and protect you from evil. Because of the Master, we have great confidence in you. We know you’re doing everything we told you and will continue doing it. May the Master take you by the hand and lead you along the path of God’s love and Christ’s endurance. (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5, The Message)
The Greater Problem
Since we’re on the subject of zombies, Paul tells us that before we came to Christ, we were among the walking dead:
As for you, don’t you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. (Ephesians 2:1, The Voice).
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. (Colossians 2:13).
Yep, the Zombie Apocalypse began with Adam’s foible. So we were all zombies, existing only to satisfy our own cravings.
However, the so-called “Christians” who engage in verbal violence, hatred, lies, slander, and jealousy do more damage to the world than the dead who walk.
Paul called them “false brethren” (2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4).
Jesus referred to them as “tares” among wheat (Matthew 13:24-30).
The Walking Dead makes this point loud and clear.
Like it or not, the world abounds with lukewarm Christians on the one hand and self-righteous, mean-spirited, judgmental ones on the other.
But God is looking for a people who (1) know how to endure until the end, refusing to walk off the field before the whistle blows, (2) are exposed to be people of the meek and mild Lamb when under pressure, and (3) are willing to lay their lives down for the good of the believing community.
This is the divine call in this hour.
Thankfully, the majority of you on this email list are survivors. Everything else is dust in our eyes.
Update: I have not gone on to watch Season 7 of the TV series, losing interest after the final episode of Season 6.
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