[Dana Tuttle and I have both written posts for Aimee Byrd's Housewife Theologian, although Dana's have a habit of always being about historical women who have been killed for their faith. Get beheaded and Dana might write about you too. Here she's deviated slightly from her usual fare in order to examine zombies and Christ, a worthy writing foray indeed.]
This article has been festering in my brain for a while and I am thankful that Tim offered me an opportunity to let it ooze out into the blogosphere. Hold on, as I try to steer this train without wrecking!
Zombies have infiltrated our culture. They are everywhere! From television to video games, they have taken over.
- On the popular television show “The Walking Dead”, adults can tune in every week to see if their favorite character has been eaten.
- On the video game “Plants vs. Zombies”, children of all ages can use household plants to throw at zombies.
- While waiting in the car line at the local elementary school, I notice a zombie sticker family, on the minivan ahead of me. The sticker claims, “We ate your stick family.”
- Marathon runners can sign up for “The Zombie Run” and race, while being chased by zombies.
- And my personal favorite…an online quiz to see how long you would last during the zombie apocalypse. Apparently, I would last a year!*
According to pop culture, I will have a chance to test out my survival skills sometime in the near future. I’m thinking my beer brewing skills will come in handy during that time. I can see me now, running through the woods with my steel pot and my cast iron bottle capper. I will have a great bartering skill and I’ll bet that capper can do some damage!
Our culture has made zombies a household name, which is why I am not surprised that my friend, Dustin, has a zombie parody of Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last supper”, in his home. A quick google search shows several pop culture parodies of this famous painting. Star Wars fans, Disney fans, and Michael Jackson fans can all have their favorite pop culture peeps posing in a Last Supper scene. There is a very large selection. If you are a fan of something, there is a parody for you!
The one that my friend owns shows Christ lying across the table, while being gruesomely eaten by his disciples, who happen to be zombies. It is extremely graphic. But when I look at it, I see a reflection of myself, of who we all are and who the disciples were – DEAD!
Some of you may find it offensive. I, on the other hand, found the gospel. I’m sure that was not the message that the artist intended, nonetheless it is there.
What I do find offensive is the way Christ is portrayed in our culture by Christians!
Portraying God Wrongly
We have the attractive white Jesus, located in the Christian book store, as well as the cartoon clip art Jesus, on our children’s coloring pages at church. Christian culture has made Jesus into a handsome guy and we have shrunk the Son of God into a thumb size picture to put on our church advertisements.
We are guilty of drinking out of Christian coffee mugs, with an image of Jesus slapped onto the cup. We hang our velvet poster of Jesus, next to our guest bathroom. (We pray our guests will come to know Jesus, as they make their way down the hall.) And don’t forget to “Honk, if you love Jesus” when we drive by you!
We are the ones who have made our Lord into a marketable product. We have reduced the one who “created all things” into home decorations, symbols on our car bumpers and jewelry around our neck.
Why do we do this? I think we do this because we are afraid to rely on the promise that scripture is powerful enough to change us without a visual image. So we create our own idea of his image and put it on anything and everything. We try to sell Jesus to our neighbor through merchandise, instead of loving our neighbor through ministry.
Why do we try to make any image of him at all? We glorify his physical appearance, yet, scripture says, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him … as one from whom men hide their faces.” (Isaiah 53:2-3) Why do you think God warns us in his commandments not to make an image of him? He knows that any attempt at doing this would cheapen the true beauty of his veiled image. It is veiled for a reason.
As believers, we should not get upset when the unbelieving culture creates their own image of our Lord. They see our tacky merchandise and the images that we have created and they follow suit. If we had refrained from making false images in the first place, we would not be able to even recognize a false image of Christ on anything. It would be foreign to us and therefore, not offensive.
We judge the unbelieving world’s ideas of what he looked like based on our own Christian culture’s “make believe” image of Christ.
We Are All Zombies
With all that said, I will bring us back around to my friend’s zombie parody of the “Last Supper”. I have never been upset that he has it hanging on his wall. I have always thought about my own guilt and how it is a reflection of our true identity as human beings. When I look at it, I see our total depravity.
All of us are fully corrupt, perverse, and sinful throughout our entire being. We are rotten in our body, our mind, and our spirit. We are “dead in our trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) “No one is righteous, no, not one. No one understands; no one seeks after God…no one does good, not even one.” (Romans3:10-12) We are all zombies!
Then lying on the table is Christ, offering himself as the meal. He lays down his life and says,
“I am the bread of life … this is the bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him … . Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:48-61.)
Thankfully, he doesn’t leave us as zombies. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved.“ (Ephesians 2:4-6)
He makes us alive, when we were dead. He takes out our evil hearts and gives us his spirit as a deposit and a guarantee of this promise. He uses legal terminology to secure the hope of his believers and seals the deal with a covenant meal – his own flesh and blood.
Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)
Are you offended?
*Tim here: I took one of those zombie survival quizzes after reading this. How long would I last? “Until the end! – Congrats! You’re a fighter and clearly know what it takes to survive!” Yay me. You can take it here, but there are a couple zombie photos in there so be warned of slight horror pics.