I usually start with the eyes. I’ll use an attention-grabbing title to draw you in closer. Sometimes I’ll nibble at your ears with humor. Then I move on to the main course. I dig into your mind with ideas and I support them with scripture. After that, I go in for the kill. I appeal to your emotions with my vulnerability. I tell stories about my failure hoping you can identify, and then I point you to God for unconditional love.
On the surface it may look like I simply want you to give your heart to Jesus, but that’s not the whole truth. I want a taste of that sweet meat for myself. Sure I want you to love God because he first loved you, but I want you to love me, too.
Most of the time I justify my meat munching by telling myself that I’m communicating an important message. I have given my life to the gospel. I really do want as many people as possible to hear the good news of God’s radical grace for sinners and sufferers.
However, in my saner moments, I have to admit that I also want your comments on social media about how talented and insightful I am. I want shares and retweets. I want massive traffic to my blog posts. Those are good signs I got my teeth into you. But most of all, I want you to validate my existence by telling me how my work has changed your life.
I’m not the only Christian zombie. We are legion. Some of us are hiding behind pulpits. Others use microphones, cameras or books. The blogosphere, Facebook and Twitter are infested with flesh-eaters. After we get what we want, we move on to the next victim because, no matter how much zombies eat, we’re never satisfied.
That leads to another confession: I’m tired of chasing you people around.
Where did everything go so very wrong?
We’re All Dead
Here comes the scripture.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
- Ephesians 2:1-3
The walking dead are everywhere. Politicians, corporations, Hollywood… they all want a piece of us. We feed off of the systems of the world to validate ourselves, trading our work for the accolades that come with degrees and achievements. Parents push their kids harder than ever before while eating their own offspring in the process. Mom and dad say, “Strive for excellence,” but too often they’re seeking to justify their own existence.
Deprived of any life in and of ourselves, we bite and devour one another. It’s the way of the world.
If you dare to find out what seemingly sustains you, fill in the blank, “If _______ disappeared from my life today, I couldn’t go on living.” Is it your job, your wife, your kids, your position, your health, your money, the praise of men? Whatever it is, do you feel the crushing weight of the law of diminishing returns? Keep trying to suck the marrow from a dead world and you will need more and more while getting less and less in return.
Yeah, Christian or not, we all start out as zombies.
Some Are Crucified
Do you feel me rooting around in your brain yet? Here’s some more scripture.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
- Galatians 2:20
While we’re all dead, there are two kinds of dead people in the world, the restless dead and the dead at rest. The dead at rest have been crucified.
If we have the flimsiest faith in God to save us, we were killed on the cross with Jesus. We can rest in peace and let him live his resurrected life through us, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." We can experience life the way Jesus does, with the Father’s words ringing in our ears, “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). That’s all the validation and identity we need. I have his heart, so I don't need yours.
The problem is, I keep forgetting that. That’s how I became a Christian zombie.
We Are What We Eat
Are you like me, sick and weary of chasing life where it can’t be found? If so, you’ve forgotten, too. You need a reminder, and that’s why Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.'”
- John 6:53-56
Now, that sounds pretty gross, but it really isn’t. It’s about trusting God to feed you instead of mindlessly devouring a dead world thinking it will lead to anything but more death. It’s about eating the source of all life (John 14:6), and it's about resurrection.
I used to think it was nutty that Catholics believe that when celebrating the Lord’s Supper the bread and wine actually become the real flesh and blood of the body of Christ. Well, I don’t think it’s nutty anymore. I went to Jesus with my hunger and I realized how it happens.
The truth is, we turn bread and wine into real flesh and blood all the time. All we have to do is eat it. The digestive process breaks down the bread and wine and uses the nutrients to create new tissue and blood cells.
Similarly, if you want to turn bread and wine into the real flesh and blood of the body of Christ, all you have to do is set aside the elements for this purpose and then feed them to the Church. We are, after all, the flesh and blood body of Christ corporately indwelt by his Spirit. We feed on him by faith.
We really are what we eat. So, this Easter, remember with me, eat and live.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
- Ephesians 2:4-5