A Zombie Theology

In recognition of Zombie Awareness Month, allow me to take you back to a time when I was first introduced to dancing zombies. It was the 1980s and I had grown to love the new channel we were getting on our television set. It was called Music Television or MTV for short. This was back in the day when MTV still played music videos by popular musicians and no one was more popular than the king of pop; Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album was released and I got the LP for my birthday. Not long after the release of the album, MTV started showing the music video for the LP’s title track. In fact, it was more of a mini-movie than a video and it not only revolutionized music videos, but my generation’s view of zombies.

From in their tombs the dead slithered out of their dirt covered graves and stiff legged it to the center of town where they met up with a zombified Michael Jackson. With their partially decomposed bodies and clothing, they managed to line up with their zombie leader for what you might expect to be a flesh eating frenzy. But no! Instead a living dead Michael Jackson and his zombie crew break into a perfectly choreographed “Thriller” dance.

My generation had been introduced to a new generation of zombies. The Thriller zombies were much less scary than the “Night of the Living Dead” class of zombies, probably because most people don’t eat while they are dancing, regardless of whether they are living dead or just simply living. It’s hard to eat someone when you’re busting a move with the king of pop. But in the ’80s I would learn of another who escaped the grave.

In 1987, a friend of mine turned me on to a dead man who had risen from the dead, but this time it was no Hollywood fable. It was a historically documented occurrence with eye witnesses and firsthand testimonies. I was able to read the accounts of this man, how he lived, how he died, the duration of his death, and how he came back to life and appeared to people. Unlike the Thriller zombies, who leave their graves to hunt and devour human flesh, this man rose from the dead to prove to the world that he had conquered death and that his claims about himself were true. His name is Jesus.

Though Jesus rose from the dead, he wasn’t a zombie. Zombies are dead people that walk around like living people. Jesus was a dead person who, through the power of God, rose from the dead and became alive again. In fact, Jesus came to defeat death altogether. He said of Himself, “. . . I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) The Bible teaches that “. . . the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) In other words, what we earn for being sinful people is death. Before I knew Jesus, I was a walking dead person. I was dead in my sins. But when I put my faith in Jesus, I was raised from the dead and became alive.

This concept of the dead rising is so significant that one of the major ordinances of the Christian church is a ceremony symbolizing a dead person rising from the grave. When a Christian is baptized, it symbolizes the believer being united with Jesus in His death (going under the water like being dead in the ground) and rising with Christ in His resurrection (coming out of the water). The Bible says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4) In addition, it symbolizes the death of the old self and the resurrection of the new person. The apostle Paul put it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (1 Corinthians 5:17)

And so, in celebration of Zombie Awareness Month, let’s rise from the dead. Let us, receive the free gift of life offered by Jesus and allow him to raise you from your sin caused death. Put your faith in Jesus, who died and rose to make it possible for you to be saved and live. Because, let’s face it! Life is way better than death and the life Jesus offers is a good one. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b)

*All Bible references taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version ©1984 by International Bible Society.