Living among the Dead
When I was in college, the zombie craze was just taking off. You know, deceased people who mysteriously come back to life through some disease, scientific experiment, or unknown reason. Zombies. Now, before you click away, bear with me. It’ll make sense in a minute. I remember watching a zombie show with my roommate, curious to see what it was all about. And it was in this silly show that I found one of the greatest and most encouraging pictures I’ve ever seen to help me understand how to overcome my fear of rejection. And yes, I am aware how crazy that sounds.
In one episode, we find our heroes trapped in a building, a building surrounded by zombies. These people, living humans, not dead zombies, need to get out and find supplies, but there’s a problem. As soon as they walk out into the street, they’ll be recognized as living beings and the armies of the undead will descend upon them. So, what do they do? They camouflage! Forgive me for the imagery, but it’s too good to pass up. Our heroes find an “expired” zombie and decide to dress up just like those wandering the streets. They gather its clothes and personal effects, attempting to disguise themselves and make it appear as if they, too, are undead. When they leave the building they moan, limp, and imitate those around them. They look like zombies, they smell like zombies, and the plan, for the most part, works!
Here’s the point. Those who have a relationship with Christ have been made new. Romans 6 tells us we are “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” We’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Col. 1), we’re no longer slaves to sin, but adopted children of God (Rom. 8). And as such, we don’t look like the world anymore. We don’t live our own way; we live God’s way with Christ as our ultimate example. So, when Jesus promises we will be hated and rejected by the world in John 15, it starts to make some sense.
The people hating and rejecting us aren’t alive yet! The very thing we’re trying to share, the life-changing message of the gospel, is what transfers someone from death to life, so we can’t be shocked when the dead attack.
Think of it this way, if I walk out into a broken world, a world defined not by God’s way, but man’s way, and no one notices me, no one does a double-take or gives me a dirty look, it’s possible that I might look eerily similar to the world. It’s just like our silly zombie example. If the characters in the show walked out without camouflage and weren’t attacked, it might be a good indicator that they weren’t alive. I actually saw a different zombie movie (I know, I know… It was a phase) in which the main characters were confused by the fact that they weren’t attacked by any of the wandering corpses, only to find out at the end of the movie that they were dead all along.
Jesus promises rejection but tells us that He was rejected first. If our goal as Christ-followers is truly to follow and imitate Christ, rejection is going to happen. But the good news is that, just like our ridiculous analogy, rejection for Christ’s sake is an indicator that we’re alive! We can take great courage in the fact that a sinful world rejects us because it rejected our Savior first.