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The Walking Dead

February 16, 2014

Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24: 5) by John Stanhope, Art Gallery at New South Wales, Source/Photographer UAGDbjen5rNJDg at Google Cultural Institute (PD-ArtlPD-Age 100)

The undead are popular these days. They are featured in numerous films, video games, and television programs.

The concept of ravenous dead restored to a perverse version of life requiring that they devour human flesh has multiple origins. Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are just two.  Director George Romero’s much-imitated horror flick, Night of the Living Dead, is another.  The Scandinavian draugr, the Chinese jiangshi, the Arabian ghoul, the Jewish golem, and the European revenant have all contributed to the lore.

Few enthusiasts of this genre realize that the dead walk among us. They fall into three categories: those worn past the point of exhaustion by the effort simply to make a living; those unmoved by the plight of their fellow man; and those unsaved, whatever their economic status.

On any given day, heading to work at 5AM or home from the job at midnight, millions of Americans living below the poverty level – and millions more overseas – struggle to get from one day to the next.  On buses and subways, behind counters and newsstands, holding bedpans or brooms, these men and women are largely invisible to us. They fill a need, but are often overlooked.  They might as well be furniture.

Truth be told, many of us do not believe they exist.  We cannot be convinced that the American Dream does not extend to all Americans.  That harsh reality is either outside the realm of our experience or, by definition, not our concern. We are not our brother’s keeper [1]. Good fences make good neighbors, as the poet said [2].

To those staggering under the weight of their lives (and worry for the future of their children), one dreary day is the same as another. There is little hope of relief. If anything, life is a daily pounding, driving out hope. And so the walking dead. For surely hope (and compassion) are among the characteristics which define humanity. In their absence, we are something less, something different.

God does not, of course, evaluate human beings by the amount of their material possessions. Jesus, Himself, said of the impoverished widow that she contributed more than any others, because the two mites she gave were all she had (Mark 12: 41-44).

Nor does God save us based on our accomplishments. Paul put it this way:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

Unless and until we are saved by faith in Jesus, we are spiritually dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2: 1). Against an eternal backdrop, these dead are the most tragic. Prosperous in this world perhaps, but destitute in the hereafter [3]. By contrast, the poor are promised reward, if not here, then in Paradise [4].

All of which begs the question:  Isn’t Christianity, itself, a religion of the undead?  The answer is a resounding no.  Christianity is not a religion of mind control and slavish obedience.  Nor do Christians worship a dead man. Having risen from the dead, Jesus is no zombie.  He is alive and well, as those of us who have a relationship with Him can attest.

Satan, the adversary, walks about “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5: 8).  Jesus came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10: 10).   The analogy to the undead may not be so farfetched.

[1] Cain protested that he was not his brother’s keeper, when asked by God the whereabouts of Abel, whom Cain had slain (Gen. 4: 9).

[2] The line is from “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. The poet used it ironically, actually making the point that, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”

[3] Jesus’ parable of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, made this clear (Luke 16: 19-25). In Hades, the rich man complains of thirst to which Abraham responds: “ ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’ ”

[4] During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “ ‘Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God’ ” (Luke 6: 20).


  1. Thank you for taking the time to stop by!



  2. Well written. When mentally ill I have been of the invisible too. Back then, when I was treated like “the furniture” who would of realized I would one day become a mental health professional and a writer and expose the sins they thought would always remain hidden.

    • Amazingly, God can use even our trials for good. “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8: 28).

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