My good friends know I love the television series “The Walking Dead.” It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the immature or young. There is no question there is violence, mature themes and zombies. From time to time there are lots of zombies. They aren’t the fake looking kind. They can make your skin crawl.
I do not recommend that everybody run to Netflix in order to begin watching from the first episode (it’s the only way to understand it at this point). Nor do I expect anyone to jump in with season five and get it.
If you happen to venture into this world you will discover something that makes this the number one viewed show among 18 to 35 year olds. It is not about zombies. It really isn’t. Zombies are the vehicles to look at human nature when your world collapses. It is a show about human nature. That is what makes the series so popular.
I was watching the July 4th marathon (sorry, no war movies this time) and happen to come across a very profound scene. There is this guy, Merle. Well, there was a guy, Merle. You get the idea. Merle was a picture of people who react. They aren’t dumb. They react to the moment. Sometimes you like the guy. Most times you can’t stand the guy. One thing for sure, Merle will live for Merle. Good or bad…Merle makes decisions for himself. Merle would not be found in the church pew on Sunday.
There is another character, Hershel. Hershel is an alcoholic (mostly recovering) who seeks to do the right thing by immersing himself in the Bible. He isn’t a Jesus Freak. He tries to live out the principles set forth by Christ in a way that seeks to make the right decision, love others (sometimes even zombies), and love others especially his family. He is the kind of guy we would love to have in our churches. If he were leading a Bible study we would be blessed. Forgiveness and redemption dominate Hershel’s philosophy of life even in the midst of major crisis.
Hershel is talking with Merle in this scene. He asks him a very profound question. Hershel asks, “Do you even know why you do the things you do, the choices you make?” Merle answer is so dead on. He replies, “I don’t know the reasons for the things that I do. Never did. I’m a damn mystery to myself.”
I ask this question in many forms to many people. I’ve seen so much pain and misery as a counseling pastor. Most people respond like Merle. Is it that our culture doesn’t allow us to look or maybe we don’t want to know.
Churches move more and more away from having people face the truth that is evident in this television series. The funny thing is the more we move away from the truth that we are a mess and much more sinful than we like to admit the further we move away from the profound truth of Jesus being the answer to our condition. Somehow, we think that the issues of Merle are non-believers. Well, my counseling is mainly with Christians. Somehow, we don’t want to realize that being a new creature doesn’t mean any of us are sin free. To live that way and fellowship that way defies the Scripture.
The truth is we need to face our need every day. Doing so we face the truth that we need the gospel every day not just the day of our salvation. We don’t want to. Yet, it is the very truth that makes the apostle Paul’s instruction so profound when he writes “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Every day. Every day. Don’t wait for Sunday. I’m not sure it’s happening there.