Are we the walking dead?
AMC cable network claims that “The Walking Dead” is the most watched drama in basic cable TV history. Filmed in nearby Senoia, each episode features sheriff Rick Grimes and his band of survivors seeking refuge in a dreary post-apocalyptic world. Weekly they fight zombies who roam the earth, yet they also face danger from the living. These survivors have become the walking dead.
Jesus presented some hard-hitting messages to the seven churches of The Revelation. In His letter to the church at Sardis, Jesus told these believers they were dead, a church of Zombies.
Jesus said in Revelation 3:1, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” To the members, everything seemed alive and well. They were active and busy doing church stuff. They thought they had a good name, a good reputation. From the outside looking in, everything seemed to be great.
That’s not unusual. Pastor David Dykes shared about attending an annual meeting of churches one time and this man stood to give a report: “We didn’t baptize nobody this year. We didn’t have many new members and we didn’t’ take in very much money. We’re not doing much at our church, but praise the Lord, none of the other churches around us are doing much either.”
Jesus has a different perspective: you are dead! We must remember that activity doesn’t always point to productivity.
My mom grew up on the farm and when she was raising us boys, she’d often say, “You’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”
She was speaking from experience. When it was suppertime, her mother would go outside, chase down a chicken, and either wring its neck, or put it on the chopping block and cut its head off.
The chicken would still run or flop around for a few minutes, even though it was dying. Then it would fall over dead.
We must be careful not to confuse activity with God’s anointing. Maybe you’ve seen this comparison of live versus dead churches:
Live churches are filled with persons with open Bibles;
Dead churches are not.
Live churches embrace change; dead churches resist change.
Live churches have youth and children that are sometimes noisy;
Dead churches are very quiet.
Live churches move forward by faith; dead churches walk by sight.
Live churches emphasize opportunities; dead churches focus on problems.
Live churches have a loving, welcoming fellowship;
Dead churches have a constant undercurrent.
Live churches continuously dream new dreams;
Dead churches focus on how things used to be.
Live churches are filled with tithers; dead churches are filled with tippers.
Live churches attempt great things for God; Dead churches do not.
Jesus confronted spiritual issues, but also gave a prescription, and He told the Sardis church to wake up and watch out! Take an honest look at where you are and be alert! Wake up, come to your senses! Get with it! Remember the thrill of when you first came to Jesus. Repent of your sin and live with expectancy.
When Jesus looks at our life, does he see strong commitment or complacency? Spiritual vibrancy or the walking dead? Busyness or fruitfulness?
Dr. A. J. Gordon was a preacher who many years ago came to a dead, dull, formal church in downtown Boston. He was a fiery preacher whose sermons were filled with zeal. It was a major change for this stale congregation and they were slow to take to him.
One Sunday, he preached on “The Funeral of the Church There in Boston.”
At the end of his sermon, he had an open casket placed in front of the church and asked each member to walk by and see their dead church. As they did, they looked into the casket and there was a mirror, because a dead church is filled with dead members, just as an alive church is filled with alive members.
That was a turn-around Sunday as they woke up, allowed God to bring life to a dying church, and they became a great beacon in New England.
[Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road, just past the department of drivers’ services office. Join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org.]