"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Zombies Are Real

In my Internet travels I've discovered firearms enthusiasts who instruct viewers in the best weapons and strategies for killing zombies. At first, I wondered if they knew something I didn't  Then I became convinced that the term “zombies” is simply a code word for “bad guys” or “intruders” in ones home.

While that may be partly true, I've discovered a sense in which “the living dead” do literally exist—and it ain't pretty.

Human beings are born with an incomplete spirit that can’t counteract basic human badness. We learn to function in our world through trial-and-error, correcting our behavior when it earns us enough pain to quit touching that figurative, hot burner. “Ouch! So that’s why they call it a figurative, hot burner.”

Most zombies learn to function fairly well in life, even with an incomplete spirit. Unlike movie zombies, though, real zombies look like regular folks. Most of them go to work every day, support their families well, and a lot of them even go to church. And also, unlike movie zombies, most real zombies are okay with consuming cooked, dead meat, and won’t try to take a bite out of your throat.

Movie zombies and real zombies are alike in only one way: Neither realize they’re zombies. We human beings share one common trait; all those who are just like us are okay in our book, while those who seem different, aren't quite right. So if they were real, the stumbling, slathering, decomposing, movie zombies would likely see the rest of us as terminally weird, while the normal-looking, spiritually dead, everyday real zombies think those Spirit-filled Christians are terminally weird, likely ‘cause they were bitten by Religiosus Arachnida domesticus, or the dreaded, religious house spider.

You've probably noticed movie heroes have a hard time stopping movie zombies when they’re hungry—which is all the time. They don’t stop, first, because it’s not in the script, and if they did, the director would get all red-faced and yell, “Cut! Zombies don’t stop until their heads are blown off. Are your heads blown off? I didn't think so. Shoot the scene again!”

Their second reason for not stopping, as I mentioned above, would be they’re always hungry, and a living human being would be dinner’s main course. That’s the biggest reason I’m glad they’re fake, which is probably why I mentioned it twice.

Third, because they would feel no pain. We know that because they stumble after their intended victims with broken arms and legs flopping around, and if they were regular, living folks, they’d be rolling around on the ground in agony from their injuries.

Fourth, you couldn’t kill them because they’d already be physically dead.

Unlike the real, spiritually dead zombies, the fake, movie zombies are supposedly born alive. Then, when they can’t outrun a staggering, stumbling zombie and it bites them, they die and turn into new zombies, who somehow look just as badly decomposed as the old zombies.

If You Like Scary Movies

Then you’ll love what real life has in store for us, as it makes the worst monster movies seem like a picnic. When spiritual zombies are born, and that’s all of us, shaking our tiny fists and squalling our heads off, we have only our human spirit. At that point we aren't hopeless, though, because we haven’t yet learned how to sin, and our loving God makes allowances for innocent babies. Once we decide to sin on purpose, though, our innocence dies, and sin keeps looking better all the time.

Remember how we don’t know we’re spiritual zombies because we seem right in our own eyes? Now comes the really bad part: If that situation doesn't change before we die, we’re all doomed to an eternity in hell, because anyone who has sinned—and that’s all of us—can’t face the holy God.

All that leads us to some of the hardest questions we could ever ask: Did God create us with free will just so we would sin and spend eternity in hell? Did our choosing to sin take God by surprise? If God is all-powerful and loving, why didn’t he just prevent sin, and all the evil it’s caused?

Despite what spiritual zombies say, God is not like Doctor Frankenstein, playing with his creation just for giggles. I never try to second-guess his eternal knowledge, wisdom and motives, but after hearing lots of skeptical allegations about his purposes, I've come up with some ideas based on studying his Word and thinking a lot about who he is.

First, the Bible says the eternal, self-existent One is the very embodiment of love: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16 ESV) That would also explain why we see so little love in human, religious, political and international relations. You won’t find God-lovers where there’s strife.

My second thought isn't based on such strong Biblical ground, but it combines a number of Biblical ideas: Because God is love, he created mankind in his own image(Genesis 1:27), so we could love him because he first loved us(1 John 4:19). Making us in his own image doesn't mean we’re identical to him. It just means he breathed his Holy Spirit into us and gave us similar strengths, like free will, knowledge, creativity, and the ability to love. But he didn't make us spiritual zombies; they came later.

Nobody knows how long our first parents—the only people without bellybuttons—lived peacefully in the garden of Eden. We know they lived peacefully because God gave them only one rule: Don’t eat the fruit of a certain tree, or they would surely die(Genesis 3:3)! Well, things went along swingingly, you know, like Tarzan and Jane, until Jane—I mean, Eve—happened by the tree of forbidden fruit when this smooth-talking snake hissed at her. Meet the very first spiritual zombie, as he most certainly didn't have God’s Spirit living in him. Long-story-short, he talked Eve into biting into that forbidden fruit, and Adam soon followed suit. Meet the very first poison Kool-Aid drinking lemming, and he wasn't even a Democrat.

Because of that tragic moment of human weakness, God was forced to withdraw his Holy Spirit from them—the second and third spiritual zombies—kick them out of Eden, limit their life-spans, and make them work for a living. But don’t be too hard on Adam and Eve; if they hadn’t sinned, you and I most certainly would have.

Surprise, Or Not

We tend to think all this took God by surprise, and that his Plan B was to enlist his Son to come to our rescue. But that idea fails in one important way: Nothing takes God by surprise. From time’s first tick, God’s eternal Word knew he would, though innocent of all sin, one day take the form and sin-guilt of man, be spat upon, scourged, crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross. It wasn't Plan B, but all part of God’s original plan of salvation. Because of his love, God allowed us to abuse his wonderful gift of free will, then provide us with the means to be reconciled with him, not through compulsion, but through love, because he first loved us.

We were all born spiritual zombies. To become a whole person, fully alive, we must be born again of God’s Spirit, and reunited with our creator God. If you see sin in your life and want to change, God’s Holy Spirit is already talking to you. Just say yes to the new life God prepared for you from the beginning of time.

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