When churches become the walking dead

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FORSAKEN FOTOS/Flickr FORSAKEN FOTOS/Flickr
“Welcome to Atlanta where the zombies play and where The Walking Dead is filmed.” That is what the Estately Blog reports in an article entitled “31 Things to Consider Before Moving to Atlanta.” The blog adds, “Atlanta hosts a zombie walk, zombie run, zombie convention, the Buried Alive Film Fest, and Atlanta Horror Fest. Even the movie "Zombieland" was filmed here.” Another website lists 19 locations in and around Atlanta where "The Walking Dead" has been filmed. I have not seen the television series, but the promoters of the AMC TV program say that the story revolves around a group of survivors making their way through a post-apocalyptic world overrun by “Walkers”. Each “Walker” is put through “zombie school’ and is taught how to move like zombies. According to one source, there are three levels of zombie makeup: Hero, Midground, and Deep Background. Hero zombies are featured walkers and are completely made over from head to toe. Midground zombies get highlights and shadows on the face, but do not get close enough to the camera to require full makeup. Deep background zombies often wear masks and are only meant to be used as a backdrop. The Walking Dead is in its sixth season, has debuted in 120 countries, and has the highest viewership of any series in cable television history. Reading about The Walking Dead reminded me of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The famed poet writes: “Corpses man the ship; dead men pull the oars; dead men hoist the sails; dead men steer the vessel.” And Coleridge’s description of the dead is chilling: “And every tongue, through utter drought, was withered at the root. We could not speak, no more than if we had been choked with soot. Four times fifty living men, (And I heard nor sigh nor groan) With heavy thump, a lifeless lump, They dropped down one by one. The souls did from their bodies fly, – They fled to bliss or woe! And every soul, it passed me by, Like the whizz of my cross-bow.” In Revelation 3 we read about the church at Sardis. Some have called Sardis the church of the living dead. Jesus said of that church: “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” The works of the church gave them the appearance of life. The church was a beehive of activity with a reputation for life. Everyone that looked at them said, “That church is on fire!” But things were not as they seemed. The Great Physician put his finger on the pulse of the church and pronounced them “dead”. Have you ever thought about the characteristics of life as opposed to the characteristics of presumed life? I suppose it would be like comparing or contrasting a live tulip to an artificial tulip. Consider this. First of all, living things use energy. They take in energy and use it for maintenance and growth. In the spiritual realm, that concept would be translated into taking in spiritual nourishment – Bible reading and study, prayer and worship. Second, living things respond to their environment. They will make changes in response to a stimulus in their environment. From a spiritual standpoint, a church or a Christian must adapt to the specific needs and challenges of their community. We never change the message, but the method of approach must sometimes be altered to reach certain segments of our society or ethnic groups. Third, living things grow. That is accomplished by the orderly formation of new cells. Therefore, are you growing spiritually and is your church growing in grace, in spirit, in numbers? Fourth, living things reproduce. Reproduction is not essential for the survival of individual organisms, but must occur for a species to survive. Is your church reproducing itself by having people born into the kingdom of heaven or by planting new churches? If these things are not characteristics that mark your life and the life of your church, you and your church could be numbered among the walking dead. Jesus was able to identify a remnant of faithful followers in the church at Sardis and promised, “They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Appeals to dead church members and churches obviously fall on deaf ears, but to the faithful remnant we make our appeal to wake up and stand firm for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Dr. R. G. Lee, the great pulpit orator of another generation, often said, “If all the sleeping folk will wake up,If all the lukewarm folk will fire up, If all the dishonest folk will confess up, If all the disgruntled folk will cheer up, If all the depressed folk will cheer up, If all the estranged folk will make up, If all the gossipers will shut up, If all true soldiers will stand up, If all the dry bones will shake up, If all the church members will pray up...

Then we can have a revival!”

church, growth, life, TV

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