On Tuesday I wrote a satirical piece about Jesus and Lazarus suggesting we should think of Lazarus as a zombie, strictly for commercial reasons. Yes, I can get cute and snarky at times-in fact maybe too much. I closed with admitting that I could never preach about zombies, or could I?My mind has been spinning out of control the past few days thinking on this subject. The more I thought about, the more I prayed and studied, the more I knew that not only I could preach about zombies- I knew I would. It occurred to me that it many ways the church (little "c") may have become a zombie. To really understand what I mean, we have to look at what zombies are.
Zombies are not alive- they are just un dead. Lazarus was not a zombie because Jesus restored life to him. Are our churches really alive?, or just un dead. That can be a hard question. Just because we are adding numbers does not mean we are alive because;
Zombies look for the living for nourishment. Zombies attack the living to keep them going, therefore making more zombies. Do we, as the church, just care about putting bodies in the pews so we can continue to exist? Or, do we care about the person and want them to grow and mature in their relationship with God?
Zombies can be slow, methodical and a little predictable. No one likes change, that is a human condition. It is also a church condition, (because the church is a bunch of humans.) The world changes however, and sometimes the church is slow to meet these changes. I am not saying we need to change the gospel- we just need to change how we show it. The gospel is the word, not the way the word is presented. Be cautious, sometimes we can be very fired up with the process but we need to remember; Zombies can be very zealous about getting their final goal (your brain). So are we fired up about Jesus- or the process.
Zombies only exist in the present, they don't learn from the past or dream of the future. Sometimes the church can be so focused on what is happening right now we forget to look at the past and see what lessons we could learn. I have heard from several churches who say that they wish they would have expanded in the past when they had families, but it was too expensive. They now understand that it takes faith to be disciples of Christ, and sometimes that faith means we step out financially. Also, we can worry too much about the financial crisis we are now in to look at the future. As with having children; if we wait until we can be financially secure before we have children, most of us will never have them. If the church waits until it can pay cash for expansion, we will never expand.
Zombies infect all they touch- but they bring them to their un-dead level. This is very important to remember. So often, we as the church want our members to act just the same as we do. Newsflash- we do not always act as Christ wants us to. So we expect the members of our congregations to conform to our idols, our expectations and our politics.
Zombies never win- they just are. Zombies never win at the end of the movie, they just cause a lot of pain and trouble. Churches that are not alive with Christ will not win. Eventually, the Truth will overcome, but it may take a long time. Those who cling to their traditions and heritage over the teachings of Jesus can cause much pain and suffering- both for the church and the un-churched.
The last thing I need to stress is this- Zombies are not real! Zombies are made up to entertain our darker side. Zombie churches do exist. There are congregations that are not growing with the Spirit, that only feed off of others and infect all they touch. Here is the good news! Christ calls everyone to be alive in Him. We are not un-dead, we are living through Him and because of Him.