Walking Dead, Finale

November 24, 2013

Walking Dead, Finale
Well here we are at the end of our series “The
Walking Dead”.  It
was been a seven week journey though Biblical accounts of people who were given
their lives back.  Sometimes it was
simply metaphorically, in the case of the 10 lepers that we looked at on
Thanksgiving Sunday.  These people weren’t literally
dead, but they might as well have been. When they were diagnosed with leprosy
they were declared to be dead, they had to leave their homes and their
communities.  Their spouses were
permitted to remarry and their estates were divided amongst their heirs.  And so when Jesus spoke, and they were healed
they were literally given their lives back. 
It was like they had been dead, and then they were alive.
But in the rest of the cases we looked at we
see those who were literally dead.  They
had no life in them, the word that was used in the original accounts was
Nekros, which was the Greek word for dead, and there was no other meaning.
The title for our series comes from the AMC
television series by the same title and the show focuses on a Deputy Sheriff by
the name of Rick Grimes who is wounded in a shoot-out and wakes up in a
deserted hospital.  When he ventures
outside he discovers himself in a post-apocalyptic world that is now inhabited
with zombie or walkers as they are called in the series.  So for three seasons, now into their fourth
Grimes and a group of survivors have been fighting the walkers and trying to
find the cause of the plague.
We have mentioned several times for those who
have been concerned that we might be straying over to the dark side with all this
talk of Zombies, these aren’t the zombies of voodoo and witchcraft, more
frighteningly is that this was caused by something of this world.  And in a world with biological warfare and
the jury still out on GMO’s who knows this might be a reality someday.
My personal view is that this is all a
nightmare that Rick is having in the hospital, that when he wakes up the world
will be normal again and the series will be over.
So with that said, we need to introduce this
morning’s message with a spoiler that happened in the last
episode of the second season.  So if you’ve
been working your way through the series and haven’t
gotten to the last episode of the second series this would be a good time to
put your fingers in your ears and sing, La, la, la, la, la. 
Because in that episode Rick
finally tells the group what he learned at the CDC, the Centre for Disease Control
in Atlanta.  He says “We’re all infected. At the C.D.C., Jenner told
me. Whatever it is, we all carry it.” 
Up until that time the survivors felt like
they were different than the walkers, that they were safe, but now they realize
that there isn’t much that separates them from those they
fear.
Sometimes as
Christ Followers we separate ourselves from other’s
thinking that what makes us different is something within us.  There are times that we are guilty of being
like the story Jesus told in Luke
18:11
The Pharisee stood by
himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like
everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t
commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!  It’s so
easy to get into that “I’m so glad I’m not like those people” mode.
But you see, a dog isn’t a dog because he barks, he barks because he’s a
dog.  And people aren’t
sinners because they sin, they sin because they are sinners.  We are told in Isaiah 64:6 We
are all infected and impure with sin.   You see whatever it is, we all carry it.  The theologians call it inherent depravity or
original sin, but the truth is; we all carry the sin gene.
So let’s go back to the scripture that was read
earlier, specifically the fifth verse of Ephesians 2 where we read, Ephesians 2:5 Even though we were dead because of our sins,
he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s
grace that you have been saved!)
What does it mean to be dead?  What is this death that we talk about?   Well it was Alice Thomas Ellis who wrote, “Death is the last enemy: once we’ve
got past that I think everything will be alright.”   
It was Timothy Leary who wrote “How you die is the most important thing you ever do. It’s the exit,
the final scene of the glorious epic of your life. It’s the third act and, you
know, everything builds up to the third act.” And Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who observed  “Dying is
something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical
lives on this earth.”
 And I
think we all share the sentiments of the tombstone that Read “I
expected this but not yet”.
The words, death, dead or dying are mention
over 1300 times in the Bible.  The past
six weeks we have looked at what begin dead means and more importantly what not
being dead means.  The question I need to
ask today is this, Are you dead?
You say, “don’t be foolish preacher, I ain’t
dead.”  For the most part we understand
that.  We know that you aren’t physically
dead.  But are you spiritually dead?  Are you walking this old earth alive in the
body but dead in the spirit?  Are you one
of the Walking Dead?
In each of the cases that we looked at during
our series, there were those who were dead. 
Lazarus was dead, the widows son was dean, Eutychus was dead and Jarius’
daughter was dead.
And so these provides for us an illustrative
base from which to proceed with the analysis of the aforementioned inquiry into
the metaphysical condition of your soul. 
That is to say those who were dead will be our example.  Are you dead? 
Well the only way you can know for sure that you are not dead is to know
that you are alive.
Now understand we aren’t talking about the
undead here, we are talking about the dead dead.   The undead don’t exist, there are no Zombies
or Walkers.  Regardless of what you look
like before your first cup of coffee. 
Dead is dead and alive is alive. 
1) The Dead Have No Appetite. When a man is dead, food no longer holds any
interest for him.  You can have filet
mignon wrapped in bacon, stuffed mushroom caps, baked potatoes, sour cream and
chives and fresh strawberries and cream and he won’t care.  Dead people don’t have Big Mac attacks.  They don’t crave for food.  Pizza, ice cream, burgers, fries, not even
Chinese food interests the dead man. 
While a man is alive he gets hungry on a regular basis, some of us more
regular then others.  The dead man though
is unmoved by food. 
One of the symptoms of the spiritual dead man
is a lack of appetite for God.  Now lack
of appetite for God does not necessarily mean lack of appetite for church.  The problem here is that many people get God
and church confused.  You can have an
appetite for church without having an appetite for God. 
Your church appetite may be because you like
the music, or perhaps the preaching, or because it is a social occasion, maybe
it adds to your prestige.  There can be
many reasons why you like church and God may not come into the picture at
all.  No hunger for God indicates a lack
of spiritual appetite, which is usually indicative of spiritual deadness.
One of the easiest ways to diagnose your
appetite is by watching what you eat.  I
love burgers!  When we eat out the first
thing I look for on the menu is there burgers. 
I have often regreted not ordering the burger but seldom have I
regretted ordering the burger.  This
gourmet burger craze is heaven for me.  I
could eat burgers seven nights a week.  I
haven’t but probably could have burgers for breakfast.  I have an appetite for pizza, I should have
that type of appetite for fruit and vegetables, and even though I like a good
crisp slightly tart apple I prefer burgers. 
Through the years Angela love chocolate, dark
chocolate, light chocolate, milk chocolate any type of chocolate.  When our kids were home we knew what their
favorite foods were, Stephen was really into very expensive seafood, lobster
and scallops and the like, he never actually bought them but he certainly
enjoyed eating them.  When Deborah was in
high school she developed a real love for soup.    It’s very easy to tell what we our
appetites are if you know us. 
It’s the same in the intellectual &
spiritual level as well, what are you feeding on?  Do you have a desire to feed on the things of
God?  Where do you feed your soul?  Do you feed your appetite in front of the
idiot box or reading God’s word?  Now I’m
not advocating throwing your television out but it cannot supersede the time
you spend with God.  When you read your bible
you are feeding on the things of God, after all he did call it the bread of
life.
Some people can’t figure out why they don’t
grow spiritually, there’s a good chance that it’s because they don’t feed on
the word of God.  Back when computers
were still in their infancy there was a term that said, “Garbage in, Garbage
out.”  And that applies to our spiritual
lives as well.
If you are only being fed by Ellen,  CSI and Duck Dynasty you probably aren’t
getting the spiritual nutrition that you need, even if the Robertsons pray at
the end of every episode.  If your view
of the world is shaped entirely by Fox News, Time Magazine and CNN you probably
aren’t seeing the world with God’s eyes. 
Do realize that during the year we have a
half a dozen Life Groups happening through the week at Cornerstone?  Catering to virtually every group in the
church, they are an opportunity to feed on the things of God.  But just as other people can’t physically eat
for you they can’t spiritually eat for you either.
Do you have an appetite for the word of God?  Do you seek it out or do you find it
boring?  Do you feed on what God says or
do you have no appetite for the things of God? 
No appetite means no life and that means that you are dead.
And even though you might fake your appetite,
God knows what it really is.  I’ve
obtained a reputation through the years as being a real coffee hound, someone
who drinks a pile of coffee, (can you pile coffee).  But I don’t really, I usually drink two cups
of coffee in the run of an average day, don’t drink any coffee at home and yet
people perceive me to be big coffee drinker. 
Sometimes we can give the impression that we have an appetite for the
things of God but it’s just an illusion.
2) The Dead Have No Activity.  A
strange thing about dead people is that they are usually very still.  No matter that they had been quite active
previously, when they die they have to stop, I mean they have no choice.  That’s going to be the hardest thing for me
when I die, it will take me three days just to get caught up with the work I
have to do.
Lazarus, Eutychus, the widows son and Jarius’
daughter had all been normal active people, but when they died they became
motionless.  They were without
activity.  The spiritually dead person is
usually without activity.  Somebody else
can lead or host a life group, work with the teens, help with the children’s
ministry, work on the social committee, serve on the board.
Now it’s not that
they are totally without activity, it’s just that they are just without kingdom
activity.  They find time for other
activities, duties and functions but they never have time to work in the
church, strange thing that.  There’s room
in their lives for the Lions Club or school activities or sports activities,
but if you ask them to commit time to ministry, they will tell you “Well Pastor,
family comes first.”  Well actually if
the truth was known family probably comes twelfth after work, play, hobbies,
school, sports, television, friends, yard work, the cottage, fishing, crafts
and defleaing the dog.  But God’s work
definitely comes after family, regardless of what rank family actually is.
3) The Dead Have No Direction.  Now that is really redundant because lack of motion translates so often into lack
of direction.  Those who were dead didn’t
have to know what direction to go in cause they weren’t moving, they was quite
content to head in whatever direction they’d been laid in.
Sometimes though
we are moving but we’re not sure what direction we are supposed to be
going.  It’s like we’re all guys who don’t
want to admit that we don’t know the way and we certainly aren’t going to ask
for directions.  But guess what?  We got to.   
Many people sense
a lack of spiritual direction in their life but it’s cause they ain’t asked the
way.  If you want to know where God wants
you to you gotta ask.  And when you talk
to God that’s called prayer.  A sign of
spiritual deadness is a lack of spiritual growth or spiritual direction. 
God does not
direct the dead.  Doesn’t have to cause
they’re not going anywhere. 
4) The Dead Have No Love at one time those who were dead had probably
loved all kinds of people, their friends and their family.  People that they went to the synagogue with.
But when they died
their love died with them.  Dead people
can’t express their love and neither do dead churches.  The spiritual appetite, spiritual activity
and spiritual direction, which we have seen is indicative of life, must
ultimately produce Love.  A love that
touches people and communities for the lord Jesus Christ. 
How is your love
quotient?  How do you exhibit your love
to the people who surround you?  And not
only do we have to love people, but we need to tell people that we love them.  We need to express our love now because there
will come a time that we are unable to express it. 
In
the Book of the Revelation, which is the last book of the Bible Jesus spoke to
the Church in Ephesus, which is the same church that the scripture that was
read earlier was written to.  And He
commended them for all they did and then he said this Revelation 2:4 “But I have this
complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
That’s not
necessarily something I would want said about me or about this church.  I truly believe that if we were to try and
find a secret weapon for reaching people it would be love.  Bill Hybels,
the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church just outside of Chicago makes this
statement.  “If
you create a loving community, first time seekers will sniff it and say “I want
in.”  Crusty old veteran believers whose
hearts have shut down will warm up again. 
Arrogant people will have their pride melted.”  That’s my desire for Cornerstone.
How do you measure
up?  Are you dead or alive?  If there’s no appetite, activity, direction,
or love then it’s probably time to take a spiritual pulse, and I’d bet dollars
to donuts that you won’t find a pulse at all.
You
have expired, deceased, passed away, you’re no longer with us, you’ve kicked
the bucket, you’re done dead.  You may
not think so, but like Christ said in Revelation 3:1 “I know all the
things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead.”
Well then if you’re
dead then what do you need, well there are some who say all that people need is
a good example, and there are
those who do their very best to provide that good example for society. But  let’s face it have you ever tried to be a
good example to a dead person?  It is
really quite hopeless.
Oh no someone says, what they really needs is
encouragement, they need to know that the possibilities are endless.  Now I think that encouragement is wonderful,
enthusiasm is contagious.  But you can
never encourage a dead man to be anymore then dead. 
Others would tell us that the most important thing is a
person’s environment, that if we can get them out of their negative environment
that everything will be all right.  But
face it even if a dead man’s not in the funeral parlor he’s still just as dead.
 
And education isn’t the answer either.  As important as
education is, you can’t educate the dead, although some of my high school
teachers certainly tried.  But face it if
a person is dead then their most pressing need is life.  Very simple, when you are dead what you need
more than anything is to be alive.  The
word life or live is mention 1458 times in the bible, that’s almost one hundred
more incidence then death.
You
say fair enough preacher I need life where do I get it from.  After Lazarus died his sister asked Jesus the
same question and here is his reply, John 11:25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone
who believes in me will live, even after dying.
And he told the disciples in  in John 14:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No
one can come to the Father except through me.
                                                             
Life
can only be given by the life giver and that is Christ.  He gives life, not in teaspoons but in
buckets, in 100-gallon drums.  John 10:10 The thief’s
purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and
satisfying life.  
Let’s go back the scripture
we started with Ephesians 2:4-5 But God is so rich in mercy,
and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he
gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace
that you have been saved!) 
So did you catch that?  Because Jesus didn’t stay dead, we don’t have
to stay dead.  But it’s not because of
how good you are, it’s not because of what you do, it’s all because of what
Jesus did and what Jesus offers.  That is
what grace is all about, remember, getting what we don’t deserve. 
Next
Sunday we are planning a believer’s baptism in both services, and that is a
fitting way to end this series on the dead being given new life, listen to what
Paul writes to the believers in the city of Rome.  Romans 6:3-4 Or have you
forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him
in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as
Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we
also may live new lives.
Do you see the symbolism?  We died to our old lives and were buried with
Christ by baptism.  And then just as
Jesus was raised from the dead we are raised in baptism.  I truly believe that Baptism is the first
step of obedience for a Christ follower and if you have taken the challenge of
following Christ but have resisted his command to be baptised I would challenge
you as to why.  What has stood in your
way of obeying that command?  If you think
believer’s baptism isn’t necessary then you need to go back and reread the New
Testament and see what Paul said about baptism, what John said about baptism,
what Peter said about baptism and what Jesus said about baptism.