As regular readers know, I have been keeping up with season four of "The Walking Dead" (TWD). I've been trying to figure out my fascination with it. I hate blood and gore, of which there are plenty on the show, so I spend many minutes with my eyes closed. I like happy endings, and happy stories, and happy people. Not so far, not too many, and not too often. Yet I am hooked.
I am also reading Francis Schaeffer's book, True Spirituality.Schaeffer was a Christian theologian who lived from 1912-1984. True Spirituality tells of Schaeffer's examination of his faith and exposition of what it means to live life, real life, as a believer in Christ. I will confess: I've only read the first two chapters. However unlikely, the first chapter of Schaeffer's book gives me a clue why I am so fascinated with "The Walking Dead."
Schaeffer posits in the first chapter (as I understand it), that the breaking of the ten commandments (and, by extension, all sin) is rooted in the inward sin of covetousness. He states, on page seven:
We must see that to love God with all the heart, mind, and soul is not to covet against God; and to love man, to love our neighbor as ourselves, is not to covet against man. When I do not love the Lord as I should, I am coveting against the Lord. And when I do not love my neighbor as I should, I am coveting against him.Schaeffer sees coveting as wanting something other than what God has given and believing that God is wrong in what He gives, and as wanting what someone else has. For most of us, once we are past the age of about ten, coveting is inward. We don't just tell our friend that we want their cute clothes or their great car or their wonderful boyfriend. But we think it. As adults, many of us struggle with wanting someone else's talents or looks or relationships. We don't much talk about it, but it's always there, under the surface.
Zombies on TWD (disclaimer: I am not an expert on the genre or mythology of zombies) have one goal: To eat. They have one preferred food: Human flesh. They want what they want, they want it now, and they don't care who gets hurt in the process. Their one and only purpose is keeping themselves alive (well, kind of, in an undead sort of way).
Zombies, to me, are the graphic image of the sin nature that is at the core of each of us. We hide it, we dress it up, we fight it, but each of us have needs or desires that we pursue with single-mindedness and without much caring whether someone else gets hurt as long as we get what we want. In our lives, the sin is usually disguised, but, in our worst moments, most of us recognize that we really do want what we want and intend to get it.
The people on TWD are not yet zombies (spoiler alert if you've never watched), but as soon as they die, that's what they become. They are "zombies walking" who have only two fates: To become a zombie or to have their brain destroyed as soon as they die to prevent this. There is no cure. I have not read the comic book series upon which the show is based, so I don't know if a cure is ever found.
All of us are "zombies walking" in the sense that we are sick with sin. There is no human cure. I can try really, really hard, but I will still internally covet something someone else has. Schaeffer puts it like this: "'Thou shalt not covet' is the internal commandment that shows the man who thinks himself to be moral that he really needs a Savior." (p. 7)
The characters on TWD need to be rescued. They need someone to save them from death. I need to be rescued. I need someone to save me from death. If I were writing TWD, there would be a rescuer. There would be a savior. In my life, God sends a rescuer. He sends a savior. The raging zombie of sin has been forgiven and redeemed by the love of Jesus. I am no longer enslaved to covetousness. I no longer have to fear death:
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed[emphasis mine]. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)