What will the church look like as it rises from the ashes of the aftermath of the Zombie Apocalypse? Are we living in the dawning of a new day? Is it a time for us to rebuild our ruined “cities” (called local churches) on a new platform of the Father’s love and Christ’s scandalous grace? Will the church finally look like Jesus in the aftermath?
You might be wondering what I’m talking about. The term, “Zombie Apocalypse” comes from a recent John Crowder YouTube video titled, “Word for 2016: Zombie Apocalypse.” In his humorous way, Crowder gives a tongue-in-cheek prophetic word for the new year. While the idea is funny, he makes a valid point that might actually be prophetic. So let’s go with this imagery and take a look at what God might be doing with His church in this hour.
First, let’s take a look at the nature of the Zombie Apocalypse.
Zombies don’t know they’re dead
Like zombies in the horror cult films, these “zombies” are Christians who don’t know they’re dead–that is, that their old Adamic nature is dead (Rom.6:5-7). You will find them in “cemeteries,” constantly digging up their old self and trying to make it behave by moral restraint. Their mantra is “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” never realizing what it means to be a New Creation in Christ (2 Cor.5:17). They’re still trying to crucify their flesh and they ride on the performance rollercoaster of trying harder and failing. Their favorite song is “Who will deliver me from the body of death?”, not seeing that Paul was talking about his old life under the Law, for he goes on to say, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom.7:24-25). I wrote about this in 2013 here.
Zombies eat brains
Zombie preachers and theologians have long been feasting on the brains of orphan-minded churchgoers by spinning their doom and gloom theology of separation from God, using guilt and manipulation, making their zombie followers drink from a poisonous mixture of law and grace. They control through fear, insisting that unless you march in lockstep agreement to their doctrinal drumbeat, you are apostate and subject to eternal damnation. You are not allowed to think for yourself and constantly warned against “ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing,” which is any dissenting voice that might free you from their control. In fact, to disagree with them is to risk being ostracized from the zombie fold and labeled as rebellious and unteachable.
The Zombie Apocalypse
What we’ve witnessed over the couple of decades is a great apocalyptic fallout from this Zombie domination in the Church. Christians are leaving the organized church in droves, and the number of “None’s” is growing (see Pew Research here). Many have escaped, fleeing these “cities” and are now living in isolation.
What caused this cataclysmic awakening? There are many factors, but here are two major contributors. First, the rise of fearless grace preachers who dare to uncover the ancient wells of pure, undiluted grace, which has inoculated many former followers from the zombie mind control. Second, the rise of faithful teachers who have shown us the Father’s unconditional love and what it looks like to live in His embrace, which has driven out their zombie fear.
These courageous freedom fighters have blazed a new pathway to life and freedom in Christ, taking on the full fury of the zombie backlash, faithfully banging the drum of the Father’s unconditional love and transforming grace found in Christ. They’ve been relentlessly hounded and labeled false prophets and false teachers by the zombie elite who wish to keep us in their legalistic dungeon.
But the genie is out of the bottle and the abused faithful will not be returning to these zombie churches again. Unfortunately, many are not part of any local church at all.
The aftermath–rebuilding our cities
Does this mean that the local church is bad, that its days are over? Should Christians not have any organized gatherings, is there no more need for leadership because of these abuses of the past? Certainly not! As Crowder points out, we won’t spiritually evolve as individuals beyond community. We will never fully “grow up into Christ…reaching the unity of the faith” apart from each other (See Eph.4:11-16). For the word “church” itself (ecclesia) means an assembly of the called out ones. You cannot be the “church” living in isolation.
The good news is, Christ is building His church once again from these ashes. It will be on the foundation of better Christology. Our identity will be based on our adoption as sons and daughters rather than on sin management. His people will gather together once again, finding new freedom never before experienced, which will result in a great influx of the hungry into local churches once again. Why do I think so? Because people still want the real thing. In fact, everyone yearns for real freedom and transformation, which only comes from deep encounters with the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s Church will no longer be a walking corpse, hiding from the world, waiting for rescue while abdicating her royal responsibility on the earth. She will rise as Christ’s beautiful Bride, fully alive in Him, fully engaged as His Kingdom partner, proving to the world that what He wants for everyone is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom.12:2). Yes, this is truly an exciting time to be alive!
What will this new church look like, freed from zombie theology? It will be rebuilt on the New Creation model, finding it’s true DNA in the eternal purpose of God–free from manipulation and control, free from the poisonous mixture of grace and law. It will be built on the foundation of knowing who we are, Whose we are, and where we are, living as the Father’s fully-affirmed and empowered sons and daughters (Gal.2:20; Eph.1:3-5; 2:6; Col.2:10; 3:3; 1 John 4:17). This new breed is no longer bound by the dogma of blind obedience but will walk in freedom through faithful questioning and true humility.
Yes, this new church that rises from the ashes of the Zombie Apocalypse is learning how to live from the paradigm of love in the Father’s embrace instead of the orphan fear of separation and judgment. I wrote about what that might look like here and here. Actually, I wrote a book about it. 🙂
While we’re in the beginning of the dawning of a glorious new day–a reformation, if you will–we’re still very much in the middle of it. It may take a whole generation to see the full transformation take place.
There are still many “zombie” loved ones trapped in their shadowland netherworld. What can we do? As with all zombies, we must shoot them in the head. No, we don’t literally shoot them, for we don’t war against zombie flesh. We liberate their minds from the lies that they believe about themselves. We teach them to take these zombie thoughts captive, “pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (See 2 Cor.10:3-5). We patiently love them with the Father’s love because they are our dear brothers and sisters.
While we still have a long way to go, don’t lose heart. Keep the faith. I believe the most glorious days of the church are ahead of us! We can rebuild the broken-down walls and repair our ruined cities. The local church will be a bright and glorious “city on the hill” once again, for God is with us.
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:5)