Made Us Alive

“But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7, NRSV).

Before we dive in here, let’s just take a moment to appreciate how beautiful this is, both Paul’s words and the sentiment. I was once asked by Dave, Abstract’s discipleship pastor, to sum up the Bible in one sentence, and I said, “The Bible is the Creator trying to capture the heart of His Creation,” and when I read this scripture, that idea comes to mind in a much more powerful way than it did when I said it. It would just irritate me later if I didn’t pause for a moment to reflect on how touching I find this scripture to be, so before I discuss how God’s love turns us into the undead, I want to comment on how spiritually filling and lovely these verses are.

Paul must have really understood how dead he was before he turned to Jesus because of the three weeks we’ve been in this series, I’ve felt led to use scripture that Paul wrote twice. And I can’t help but believe that Paul references this concept more than once of how God brings us to life spiritually because he really wants us to understand it too. To Paul, knowing this is the difference between eternal life and death, and he’s right.

Paul identifies our sin as what gives us a dead status. And he doesn’t say that we may have been dead or that some people were more dead than others. He gives us all the one status, with no variation or levels of sin. We were all dead.

Paul refers to himself elsewhere in scripture as “the chief of sinners,” yet Paul has no problem with telling everyone that we were just as dead as he was. Because Paul, evidently, understood something that is very difficult for most of us to fully grasp, and that is that the sort of sin and amount of sin doesn’t matter; sin is sin, and if we’ve got it, we’re dead.

And as we were all dead, we can all come alive through Christ.

And Paul is sure to say what it is that saves us, so we don’t read this and guess why and by what we’re saved. Paul says that it is by grace. Not by our well-intentioned deeds, not by how early or late in life we come to Christ, not by our own abilities. It is by Jesus’ grace.

Since we are all dead, regardless of what sins we’ve committed or how many they are, we all need grace. And the crazy thing: we always receive enough. No matter how thick and mucky your sin is, Jesus has more than enough grace to cover it. What you’ve done isn’t too much or too bad. He has grace upon grace upon grace to give.

And the best thing? It’s not just a one time exchange where Jesus says, “Ok. You good? I’ve got to run,” at the end. The best thing is that there is no end. We enter a relationship with him, and we have the honor of spending eternity with him, us sparkling examples of His love and grace. He takes us from perpetual death to rich, everlasting life.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

I’ll not ask if you’ve been dead because I know the answer. If you’re human, you’ve been dead by Paul’s definition. But do you want to stay that way? Would you rather replace your sin with grace and enter into life abundant through Christ? What does death have to offer you that life does not? Wouldn’t you like to be a zombie?

By Carrie Prevette

P.S.– Here is a fantastic speech from The Walking Dead by Rick where he identifies the survivors as the zombies, saying that they can act as if they’re already dead in the current world so they can get to a new one where they get to live. It’s powerful, and I love it, and it makes me feel more sane for my comparison throughout this series.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHeYBVfZHM

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Losing and Finding

“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39, NLT).

Jesus was not playing in Matthew 10. The chapter is filled with some truths that are hard to hear, and honestly, verses 38 and 39 aren’t even the most uncomfortable. In fact, I find verse 39 to be rather poetic.

This scripture goes back to being both alive and dead at once, like zombies. If we choose to keep our lives, we die. If we give up our lives, we live.

So what is Jesus talking about? And why did I include verse 38 if our main point is in verse 39?

Paul used the same symbolism in Galatians 2:20, which we discussed last week, and what he said there is not altogether different from what Jesus is saying here. Paul said he was crucified with Christ, and Jesus is telling us that to be His, we have to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Paul meant that when he accepted that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, the sinful man Paul was died. Jesus means that if we’re not willing to let go of the people we were before Him and if we’re not willing to shoulder any of the changes and shifts in our lives that come from following Him, we don’t deserve to belong to Him.

We’re not used to hearing Jesus talk this way. I’d even take it a step further and say that we don’t like to hear Him talk like this. We view Jesus as a great guy who understands us, who loves us, who will forgive us. All of that is absolutely true, so please don’t think for a second that I’m trying to tell you otherwise. But He is so much more than that. He loves us, yes, enough to be honest with us. He’ll forgive us, of course, but He knows the difference between a genuine and an insincere heart, and He knows that if there’s no correction or consequences, we’ll just run out and hurt Him again. He understands us, sure, and He understands how difficult it is to carry a cross, which is why He instructs us to follow Him so He can help us.

This is where the next verse comes in because it’s an expansion of what He was saying before. If we cling to our own lives– what we want, our priorities, how we see things– we will die. Eternally. If our lives remain centered on us and sin and ways that don’t align with God’s, we will ultimately and truly die. We’ll live and then die like typical humans.

To die and then live, however, is the way of the zombie. To lose our lives– accept Jesus as our Savior, seek God’s will instead of our own, be directed by the Holy Spirit– gives us eternal life. Our entire existence becomes centered around God, and when that happens, we find His gifts all around us and in us. We’ll die a mortal death, but then we’ll spend forever in light and love.

I’ll reiterate for any newcomers or for anyone who hasn’t read last week’s post: Losing your life does not mean losing who you are. You are still you, still the person God designed you to be, still capable of doing things in the kingdom of God that not just anyone can do. You’ll have your convictions– places you can’t go anymore or people you have to set up boundaries with or things you used to do that you shouldn’t. And that’ll change parts of your life, but it won’t take it away. God may reign in your life, but that doesn’t mean you no longer get to enjoy it.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

Have you given up your life only to find a new one? If you have, you know that it’s filled with hope, joy, mercy, provision, and love unconditional. If you haven’t, would you like to? You can trade in your sorrows, burdens, and bitterness when you die to yourself. And you’ll come back to life forever.

By Carrie Prevette

Nevertheless I Live

I once taught a lesson on how those who’ve been reborn are zombies based off of Galatians 2:20, which says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I use the KJV translation because that’s the version I have memorized. (I’d like to note here that this is one of very few scriptures I know by heart.)

Additionally, I watch The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. I even watch Talking Dead, which is an hour long show that comes on after both of those shows where Chris Hardwick and his guests discuss the episode that just aired. I’ve seen Zombieland more than once and enjoy it, and I’ve seen World War Z. I can appreciate a storyline involving zombies.

Yet I can’t say that I’m fascinated by zombies as a creature any more than other monsters. And I’ve watched Supernatural since I was 14, so I’ve had decent exposure to a range of monsters. However, I do understand the interest in zombies. As humans, we are either alive or dead, and we are in awe or terror of something that is both. They are barely alive, yet they feed off of what is fully alive. I get it.

Obviously, there are negatives to being a zombie, many of which depend on what your point of reference is, and those aspects can be used as spiritual metaphors. I reserve the right to switch gears with this series and discuss any and all of those, but for now, I want to run with this idea of being both dead and alive all at once.

Let’s revisit Galatians 2:20. Paul says that he’s crucified with Christ and that he is alive because Christ lives in him. We know this not to be literal, so what is Paul getting at?

Paul means that the person he was died when he accepted the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. When we accept the crucifixion as God’s greatest gift to us and accept Jesus as Savior, what happened on the cross becomes active and real in us, and so we die with Jesus and arise new and different.

We’re new and different because we are alive in Jesus, not ourselves. He’s running the show. He changes our hearts, minds, and outlooks. The way we live and walk in this world has changed because our internal wiring isn’t the same. Our life source isn’t the same.

In The Walking Dead universe, you can only kill a zombie by destroying its brain. This is because what reanimates it is very minimal brain activity right around the core and stem. There’s very little left of what once was. When we enter our new lives in Christ, there should be less of our old lives as well. Our reanimation doesn’t mean our personalities or tastes or hobbies change, but we have different motives and priorities, and we see our actions and consequences in a new light– the Light.

In season two, our group of survivors encounter another group that has kept alive their loved ones who’ve turned. They do so because they see them as the very same people they were when they were humans. In a universe where zombies are tangible and want to eat you, this is dangerous. In our spiritual lives in this universe, it’s simply inaccurate. We may look the same, sound the same, or act the same, but the fact remains that we aren’t the same as we once were.

I’m a zombie. Are you a zombie too?

Would you like to be one? Would you care for a new, eternal life source? How about a restart? A different way of existing? Christ offers all of this. (Bonus: He does not come with the cannibalism and disease of actual zombies!) He can turn you into something new and whole and bound for heaven. So what do you say?

By Carrie Prevette 

P.S.: Here’s the link to a song I like that accompanies this post perfectly, “Zombie” by Family Force 5.

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