The un-dead walk among us
The modern church is not dead, but undead. The dead at least have the manners to be done with it and lay politely in their grave. But the church of the 21st century fills me with confusion. Its decay and disease have betrayed the church’s intended form and, unfortunately, spread worldwide. We see today not the ekklesia of the first century but a Zombie Church.
The Zombie Church is a failure, an abhorrent copy of the original. It is filthy, corroded, and unable to fulfill its function in the world. But they go on aimlessly wandering with a misguided sense of purpose and a compulsion to spread their disease to the few who are still healthy.
Obviously, this is not your typical “Christianity Today” article. I’m not going to underwhelm you with impressive theological insights or Biblical secrets. Instead, this article is a tongue-in-cheek evaluation of the modern church. We have ignored the smell of death for too long. It is time to state the obvious. The church is un-dead.
Diagnosis: Here are the signs that your church is a Zombie Church
“Things become zombified because they are marked by loss of agency, control or consciousness of their actual state of being: they are dead but don’t yet know it, living on as automata. They are the perfect emblem of decline coupled with denial: the zombie condition of the Western world unwilling to face itself after the peak of its power.”Roger Lockhurst
Obsessed with brains (knowledge), not obedience-Modern zombie films emphasize a desire for flesh, but the undead craved brains in the original zombie flicks. Since humanity’s early days in the garden of Eden, we have been easily distracted by the opportunity for unfettered knowledge.
Our obsession with knowledge and understanding reveals our misalignment with God’s eternal purpose. In the kingdom of God, knowledge is balanced with obedience. We are not to be puffed up with knowledge (leading to pride and arrogance), but knowledge is supposed to lead us to a deeper and more obedient relationship with our creator. It is supposed to help us live within the healthy boundaries he has set for us.
When we chase knowledge for knowledge’s sake, we reveal our unhealthy obsessions. Every increase in knowledge should lead to an increase in obedience. You may be a part of a zombie church if it does not.
Aimless wandering-In The Walking Dead, zombies inevitably congregate into herds. (large groups that are aimlessly moving in the same direction). When our churches cease focusing on humanitarian, evangelistic, and missional involvement, we can deteriorate into culture/social herds with little to no purpose or impact.
In a healthy church, all members are helping those in need, sharing the gospel, and participating in the great commission. If your church does not emphasize these essential elements of the gospel, then you may be a member of a zombie church.
Easily Distracted-Something as simple as a car alarm or breaking glass can cause your typical zombie to change course and follow the exciting sounds. There are so many unworthy distractions today vying for Christian’s attention.
The Prosperity gospel promises health and wealth, while End times prophecies vow to give us insider information. Political ideologies have infiltrated our churches, and the promise of social justice no longer requires gospel solutions (or so they say). But these things are just shiny objects and ear candy for the undead. They are distractions from our purpose.
The purpose of the church is to expand the kingdom of Christ, make disciples, and make an impact on a lost world. If your focus is elsewhere, you are probably a member of a Zombie church.
Highly Contagious-The undead are not content to be left alone. They want to infect others and bring them into the fold. The danger of zombie ecclesiology is that it can sound so good. But false teachings and lazy theology easily entice people from abundant life — the infected pass on their disease through social media posts, television preachers, and theologically unsound music. Once infected, they devour the healthy with their distorted version of the Christian faith.
They have no life but walk around like the living. They are the spiritual undead.
“Christ promised a resurrection of the dead, I just thought he had something a little different in mind”. ― Hershel Greene from “The Walking Dead”
There is a cure:
Have the (spiritually) undead sunken their teeth into your spirit? Have you been exposed to this theological virus? Don’t worry. You won’t have to cut off your arm like Hershel in The Walking Dead or find some antivirus in an impossibly guarded government bunker. There is a more realistic cure available to all.
These three things are guaranteed to rid you of any zombie tendencies and give you a new lease on abundant life (without having to cut off your arm).
Not all Churches are zombie churches, and not all Christians are undead. But focusing on the following things will help keep you from the Zombie Apocolypse.
Love Jesus (not religion): What set the early church apart from everyone else was their life-changing relationship with Jesus. In life, He transformed them with his teachings and the way he related to them. After his death, the Holy Spirit convicted them of sin and guided them into bold proclamation and sacrificial living.
It’s the same for us; we must spend time with Jesus daily by reading and obeying his teachings while also spending time in prayer (speaking) and meditation (listening). Religion will lead us down a path of rules and ritual, which will lead us to death, but Jesus’ path leads us to life.
Community: The Christian life is meant to be lived in community. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who will tell you the brutal truth but also support you when you need it keeps us from walking down the wrong path.
If our theology takes a wrong turn, they can help us get back on track. If we need encouragement or have questions, they provide a healthy support structure. It is not easy to live together in community (one hour a week does not constitute community), but it is worth the investment if you are willing to seek it out.
Radical Obedience: A healthy church experience is not about the warm fuzzies and being entertained by lights, music and a smoke machine. It is about ridding yourself of those pesky habits and beliefs that do not align with scripture and submitting to those that do.
- Healthy churches teach us to love our neighbor as ourselves (not surround ourselves with people who look just like us).
- Healthy churches require us to honor women both publicly and privately (not hide addictions to pornography or domestic abuse).
- Healthy churches compel us to befriend and serve those who are rejected by society (not politicize their motives).
I pray for a revival of churches that lead us into obedience because for the Christian: Obedience is life.
Dry bones arise.
In Ezekiel chapter 37, God’s words caused a valley of Dry bones to arise.
When the Israelites said, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished, we are cut off from you.”
He responded by giving them new life and saying, “I will open your graves and bring you up from them, My people. I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live. Then you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken, and I will do it.”
As we look at the state of the modern church, there is no need to lose hope. If God can tell dry bones to arise, he can easily restore His church if we let him.
Lord, we ask you again to remember us. We are dried up, decayed and undead, but you can give us abundant life. Let us see your glory and revive our hearts so that we can heal the world in your name and set them free from bondage and death. We know that religion can not do it, but we ask that you use us to fulfill your purposes. AMEN