A few years ago, we were visiting a Church in the States on Easter Sunday. The Pastor, a friend of mine, was tremendously creative with sharing the Gospel through pop culture and his Easter Sunday message was no exception. He was presenting the Easter story using various media and was at the part in Matthew 27:52-53 when Jesus gave up his life and the dead rose from the grave. Adding extra illustration to the telling of the story he played a short clip from the "Night of the Living Dead" (a Zombie movie)! My youngest son, four years old at the time, in a pregnant pause, turned to me and said in his outdoor voice "Wow Dad! Jesus is a Zombie?!
Everyone had a good chuckle, and it provided a teachable moment, assuring my youngest that Jesus was not a Zombie, but I could understand his confusion with the remarkable story of Jesus' death and resurrection. It might have appeared Zombie-esque as people began to rise from the dead, but the image of Zombies is resonating with me for another reason. I have often wondered why there seems to be such a cultural fascination with Zombies these days, and I wonder if it is because many people can personally identify with the living dead?
Like Zombies wandering in search of life, perhaps many of us feel like we are disconnected from life itself and wander around looking for life anywhere we can find it. We may do this by indiscriminately consuming anything that promises life, but once in a while, we may awaken from our feeding frenzy to realize that all this consuming is not giving us the life we genuinely desire. Even those things which are celebrated in our culture, like success, fame and fortune often end up ringing hollow, even for those who reach the top of the metaphoric food chain.
Often, when we pursue happiness as an end goal, it can be elusive. When we pursue things that transcend our self interests such as serving and caring for others, it is here that people discover genuine happiness and contentment. Counter intuitive, isn’t it? Jesus understood this in a deeply profound way. By laying down His life for others, choosing to serve others, He demonstrated the love of the Father for us. Through His example, we can experience this same life in some profoundly meaningful ways. While it is true that Jesus’ death and resurrection are the cure for that which separates us from God and makes way for eternal life, it is also as much about abundant life here and now.
Please don’t misunderstand me. When I talk about abundant life, I am not talking about Jesus making us rich, living in big houses or driving fancy cars, or that Jesus will make sure we never get sick, lose a loved one, or struggle with employment. The abundant life that Jesus speaks of is one of the hallmarks of His Father's Kingdom - love. A genuine love that is bigger than us, a love that spills out into real life in such a way that provides meaning, significance and hope in all of life. The love to which I refer isn’t some sappy sentiment, or an impersonal force somewhere in the universe. This love has a name - God. God gave us the best picture of His loving character in the person of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you do feel disconnected from life and dead inside. The GOOD NEWS of Easter is Jesus died and rose again for the living-dead too. Easter is the love-inspired welcome to experience the accepting, healing and transforming love of God, just as you are, not as you think you should be. God's acceptance and love through Jesus will unmask the lies about your value as a person, significance and happiness dictated by fame and fortune, your religious perfection, what you own or control, or even what others think about you. You will be amazed that as you learn to live loved by God that you are changed and set free to live and love well. This does not mean you won't experience difficult things in life, but it does mean that when you do, you are not alone, and the present presence of the God-who-loves brings a transcendent strength, perseverance, hope and a sense of peace that is beyond understanding.
Are you living life feeling like a Zombie? Are you looking for life but no matter what you do you feel disconnected? Maybe you feel spiritually bankrupt, or maybe you are over-churched and burnt out on religion, or you are wearing yourself ragged just trying to keep it all together - the GOOD NEWS of Easter is for you!