Updated: Aug 5, 2022
“The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV )
So, in case you haven’t noticed there have been a serious rash of zombie movies that have over taken our theaters in recent years. There is this obsession with the idea of half-humans taking over our world, eating the rest of us in an all-out apocalyptic event that threatens existence as we know it and if it weren’t for the few brave, gun-toting, one-liner having individuals, we’d all be goners.
Frankly, I’m not a big fan of zombie movies, I don’t enjoy the idea of paying money to be scared, it’s an unpleasant feeling. Why would I pay money for two hours of an unpleasant feeling? However, just this week I was swayed by a movie that looked more comedy than horror, it was called “Warm Bodies.” If you hate movie spoilers, don’t keep reading. The plot of the movie is that zombie apocalypse has happened, there are only a handful of humans left and they are always fighting, until one day, a zombie meets a human and he begins to change. At first, it’s simply because she’s pretty, so he saves her from the rest of them, but then, her interaction with him begins to make him more human. In one crucial scene, the zombie and the girl hold hands in front of a horde of other zombies, setting off the same change in them, a humanity was growing inside them. In the end, the humans realize that the “cure” they had been searching for while tirelessly defending themselves from the outside was not a pill or injection or a magic spell, it was being human and treating them the same.
Now, I’m not trying to advocate the movie, it was ok, there was a fair amount of gore and it is by no means an overarching Christian narrative to our world. It was a zombie movie, but it had a good point. Two years ago, we as a church spent Lent talking about a “Zombie Apocalypse?” and what it meant to be less than human without Christ. We spent time dealing with how Jesus came so we might have life and have it to the full (John 10:10) but without him, we have half-lives, not really fully aware of what we could be.
I think so often as Christians we see the world outside our community as scary, unsafe and full of potential downfalls that will render us “one of them” because we could never return without everyone knowing how we screwed up. So we wait for someone to tell us there are four magic Bible verses to say and everyone will change. We hope that Jesus comes back in a thundering cloud so we don’t have to talk about him outside of our Christian comfort zone. And we do this out of fear that we will be rejected for not having the right words or deeds or shoes or whatever, but Jesus continually offers us an area to practice humanity to those “outsiders.”
In Matthew 25, Jesus gives some of his most explicit instructions about what do with those people who are often treated as less than human; feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give water to those who are thirsty, be generous with strangers, visit the imprisoned and heal the sick. We know those he invited to share in his kingdom, in their inheritance were surprised. We know Jesus said “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Those who were, more or less “not invited” were shocked, they had done of the “proper” things, preaching, prophesying, hanging banners, building blogs to decry our complacent world, organizing pot lucks and making sure they watched “the right news channel.”
Those who were cast aside were those who chose to cast aside others on the basis of their half-humanity instead of inviting them to life, full life, good life.
St. Francis of Assisi famously said “preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” Christ called us to be fully human, fully connected with humanity so that those who would be dead, could come alive. It’s not magic, it’s not a cure, it’s not how many times you “like” Jesus-themed things on Facebook, it’s real, human interaction that brings out the humanity in all of us.
Ali can be reached via email here.