Monday, October 6, 2014

Are We the Walking Dead?

        There is a strange cultural phenomenon right now.  It is a multi-billion dollar industry and is seen it in movies, TV shows, books and even in our county’s CDC’s information.  It is the Zombie Apocalypse.  Zombies, also called the Walking Dead, are un-dead people walking around seeking someone’s brains to eat so they can “survive.”  Even though Zombies aren’t real, could it be that our churches are full of them? 
In speaking to women, I have sensed a deadness WITHIN our congregations.  Yes, we are still going to church but seem to only be going through the motions.  There is very little passion and the result is a lifestyle of fear and negative living.  Many have become like the walking dead…devouring the brains of any new thing coming along just to make life better while ignoring the one thing that can truly give them fulfillment.  We jump from one conference to the next…from one new book to the next, the newest Bible study to the next and for brief moments are “alive” but soon are walking again in search of another “brain” to devour.  
The prophet Ezekiel saw something similar among the Children of Israel.   The children of Israel knew they were God’s chosen but some had become complacent about God while others became involved in pagan worship, living far outside the boundaries God had set.  Their lives were spiritually dead. When things went wrong these same people cried out, “Where is our God?”  Sound familiar? 
In response to their cries, God spoke in Ezekiel 37:1->.  God took Ezekiel to a valley of very dry bones and asked Ezekiel a simple question:  Can these bones live?  This was a mass grave and so these were the bones of lots of people who had died many years before.  As Ezekiel looks at this mass of very dry bones, God asks: Can these bones live?  If I had been Ezekiel I would have laughed or spouted something like, “of course not!” But the prophet spoke with the wisdom that comes only from knowing God, “ O Lord God, you know!”
Ezekiel was then told to speak to the bones and as he spoke there was a rattling and the bones came together and there was muscle and sinew and skin.  They looked alive. 
But there is one thing missing (verse 8b.)  There was no breath in them.  The breath the scripture is talking about isn’t what comes from the lungs but what comes from the Holy Spirit. 
The reason this passage means so much is that for years it described me.  I grew up in the church and went every time the doors were opened.  I was a good Christian girl who did very little “bad” in the church’s eyes.  As an adult, I continued going to church every time the doors were open so much that I was put on staff as a worship leader!  I believed that as long as I did all the right things, that my life would be fine. 
Somewhere along the way I entered a Christian coma-like state…just going through the motions…feeling neither excited about the Kingdom nor sad about the lack of people coming to the kingdom.  I guess you could say I was among the Walking Dead…eating the brains of complacency.  But God wasn’t going to leave me that way. 
My perfect life slowly began ebbing away…my family started falling apart, and I didn’t know what to do.  People I loved very much were dying and I was left alone…my own health was failing and instead of fighting to become stronger I found myself just wanting to die.  My bones felt as dead as those Ezekiel looked at.
Then one night, I had had enough, and began to tell God how disappointed I was in Him.  I reminded Him about all the things I had done for the church and how good I had been and this was my reward?  This rant went on for awhile and when I finally ran out of steam, I picked up the Bible I had thrown upon my bed only to discover it had opened to a very familiar passage in Psalms with the heading: To the Choir director.  (You think God wasn’t answering me specifically?)  I read Psalm 42 with new eyes…it said, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for You Oh, God.”  It was then I heard in my spirit as loudly as if God spoke aloud, “Cyndi, when have you ever longed for me? You say you have worked for Me, but wasn’t that really just for you so you could get praise for yourself?”  It was then I realized that even though I had been saved, my life was only deadness and routine.  There was no real longing for Him. That night however, I fell on my face and truly began to understand what having the breathe of God within me was and I was free! 
So, I understand this deadness. Deadness causes us to do things by rote not having to even think about Jesus and often do not!  We are walking dead!  I believe today God is asking each one of us the same question He asked Ezekiel, “Can These Bones Live?”
The answer to this situation is in the next verses.  Look at what happens though when the Holy Spirit comes: “And they lived and stood on their feet an exceedingly great army.”  What we need today is not another book or program, but a fresh breathe of God.  We need to learn to LONG for only HIM. What the world needs to see is a vast army of Christian soldiers doing what the commander tells them to do.
What about you?  What have you been feeding on for your life?  Has it been the brains of others opinions or every new wave of spirituality? Perhaps you feed on, “your way or the highway,” not willing to bend to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Or have you refused to move forward after a tragedy and are stuck in the past?  Have you refused to offer forgiveness? If so, you are living in a “walking dead existence”. 
The bones Ezekiel saw had been dead for a long time!  The things that had happened to these lives were long gone.  Life changes for all of us.  The way we respond is important. 
Ezekiel wasn’t called to grave-tend, he was called to preach that God can give a fresh new spirit in even in our deadness.   
Has your relationship with God become routine?  Do you recognize yourself in this description of the walking dead?  God wants to give you a fresh new Spirit.  He is here waiting to fill you with His Spirit, which brings life and an excitement about what God is doing.  His Spirit brings us power.  His Spirit will convict and guide us into holy living. Ephesians 5: 14 says:  “Awake, O sleeper and arise form the dead and Christ will shine on you.”   II Peter 1:3 says “His divine power (the Holy Spirit) has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”   We have been given the Spirit’s power to become a vast army! 

Today, choose life!