Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 'Living Dead' Among Us

George A. Romero’s film, The Night of the Living Dead, tells the story of a set of siblings, Johnny and Barbra, who drive to rural Pennsylvania to visit the grave of their father.  There they are encountered by a zombie and they retreat to a farmhouse where they attempt to ward off the living dead who are hungry for their flesh.  There fear intensifies when they hear on the radio that the living dead are spreading murder and terror throughout the eastern U.S. 

Zombies are the fictional ‘unliving’ among us.  They are empty shells who move about and react as if they did have souls, but they don’t.  Romero may have constructed his concept of soulless creatures from the superstitious religions of Haiti. But the concept can be traced all the way back to one of the earliest literary works known to man, the Epic of Gilgamesh of the early Mesopotamians.  In this epic the goddess Ishtar promises:
“I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,

 I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,

 and will let the dead go up to eat the living!

 And the dead will outnumber the living!”

  The concept of the zombie is man’s attempt to ask the question, “Where does the soul come from?  What is the source of our consciousness?”  This is an easy question for a Christian to answer.  Our consciousness comes from God.  But for those who don’t believe in God they must ask, “Why are we not all Zombies, simply empty shells without a soul?”

Our Christian theology teaches that God exists in three persons.  We refer to this as the Holy Trinity.  He is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  He is one entity consisting of three persons.  Because man is created in God’s image, he too was created a trinity.  Man has a body, a soul and a spirit.  Man’s body is that part which we can all see.  It is the physical part of man and he shares this trait with animals.  Man also has a soul.  The soul is that part of man that reveals to him his identity.  He knows who he is and therefore he fulfills the role of man.   One might argue that animals also have souls for they have a sense of identity.  Jesus said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests.”  They know who they are and they function as animals in the realm of God’s creation.

The similarities between men and animals end there.  Man has something no animal will ever have.  He has a spirit or at least he possesses the potential for one.  The spirit is that part of man that gives him a consciousness of God.  It is why man worships God and animals do not. 

Unfortunately, when man was living in the garden that was created for him by God, he was told that he could eat from any tree  accept the one tree that was located in the center of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The tree represented man’s dependence on God.  Adam and Eve resented the tree and declared their resistance to and independence from God by deliberately disobeying him.  At this point death was introduced to man.  Death revealed itself first in man’s spirit, his consciousness.  Man’s desire to have fellowship with God evaporated and he hid from God among the foliage of the garden.

Man’s soul died.  He was depraved in his intellect.  He was still able to reason but he could not reason his way to God.  His “thinking became futile” and “their foolish hearts were darkened” and “although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23)

Finally, under the strain of years and years of sin and depravity, man’s body died.  Were it not for God the Son all men would experience an eternal death of the body, soul and spirit. 

There was no other solution for man’s rebellion except to offer a sinless sacrifice to satisfy the perfect justice of God the Father.  The only one ever qualified to do that was God the Son.  Therefore, he was incarnated as a human over 2,000 years ago to fulfill his mission to save mankind.  He saves none against their own will.  But for those who are willing to “confess their sins,  he is faithful and just to forgive them their sins and purify them from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)  Until we make this confession and ask the Spirit of God to replace our rebellious spirit with a spirit of obedience we remain spiritual zombies.  We are empty shells, dead men walking.

When Christ saves us he restores us in reverse order.  First, the spiritual zombie experiences a restoration of his spirit.  He is justified through the precious blood of Christ.  He is made aware not only of the existence of God but of the fact that as a child of the living God he might have relationship with him.  God then restores our souls.  He changes the very essence of who we are through sanctification.  The old soul won’t do.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17) 

Finally, the body is restored through resurrection.  The old body will decay and turn to dust but those living in Christ will receive a new body.  “While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.” (2 Corinthians 5:4)
Our world is filled with spiritual zombies.  Take a walk through your local mall and look at the expressionless faces of the multitudes.  Notice the emptiness in their eyes.  These are outward expressions of an inward emptiness, people without spirits, without souls.  The enemy of their souls has brought them death.  They are the walking dead.  But they need not despair for there is great hope because Jesus, the Savior, said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

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