First Fruits

May 19, 2014

By Scott Hibben, LDM for Evangelism and New Ministry 

Mac and I are downstairs in his basement right after he got home from school, playing with his Legos. At age seven my grandson has become an expert at Legos and all the various genre they portray (Star Wars, Ninjago, Chima, Lord of the Rings, you name it); so much so that he has converted the family pool table into his “Lego Kingdom”, with piles of figures and blocks and all his creations.

We’re playing “zombie”, with some sort of figure, when Mac says to me, “You know zombies are dead, but have come back to life as the undead.” “How can that be?” I ask, “something that’s dead but is also alive?” Mac tries to explain the concept to his dense Grandpa, but he’s struggling to “get it” himself. So I say to Mac, “You know, zombies aren’t real.” “What do you mean, Grandpa?” he asks me. For him zombies are as real as the figure he now holds in his hand. “Well,” I say, “we know zombies aren’t real because we are Christians, and as Christians we know Jesus rose from the dead, so the dead don’t come back as the undead, but fully alive in Jesus.” Mac pauses for a moment, and I can see that though he goes to Sunday school and church and is being raised in a rock solid Christian home (THANK GOD!), he has never put these two concepts together before. Zombies AND Jesus? One just doesn’t jibe with the other.
Mac isn’t the only one who has never laid “Christian claims” about life and death alongside the world’s common notions, urban legions, and reductionism, -- including that of zombies. My wife is a nurse in a hospital in Des Moines. This past fall she had a 20-something patient pushing her to get out of the hospital “as fast as he could”. “Why?’ she asked. “Because hospitals are the place where most zombies are made,” the young man replied; serious, sane and totally convinced. Clearly he too had never laid the Christian claims of life in Christ alongside popular culture’s fantasies about zombies, and likely other things, too. He’s not the only one. Check the internet and you will find all kinds of other people with entries that interpret Bible passages (Mt. 27:53, Zechariah 14:12-13, and various texts from Revelation and Ezekiel) as “predictors” of past and coming zombie outbreaks. There are lots of people like this. As I noted in last week’s Stirrings, citing the Barna Group’s recent “6 Trends study”, many people just don’t know what the Bible says, let alone challenge culture’s notions about zombies, tooth fairies, or other “real life” issues of morality, ethics, and justice with what the Bible says. So listen to these words from the Bible that challenges notions about zombies, and other popular ideas.
“…Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep”
(I Corinthians 15:20). You really want to see what the risen dead will look like? Don’t defer to popular
culture and its myths, but look at Jesus – the “first fruit” of a coming harvest (literally the first sheaf of
wheat to be brought in), for which all “those who have fallen asleep” will be like. That’s what Christians
believe. Jesus “died…once for all” (I Peter 3:18), demonstrating God’s power over sin AND death, so he
(we) then won’t be defeated by death in outbreaks of zombies or anything else like that. No. “(W)e are
more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And not only do we need to claim that
nonnegotiable truth for ourselves, but also help others discover that for themselves, as well. So that’s
what I ventured to do with my seven-year-old grandson, and that’s what we all need to do with each
person God places in our pathways every day. Zombies (and death) don’t win, but God does, and so then
through God, so do we.
Well, Mac and I kept on playing Legos, though Mac quickly turned his zombie figure into something else.
Maybe at least the seed of the idea had begun to stick. And so we played on. The conversation and the
play had become good therapy for Mac, and yes, honestly, for his grandpa, too. It makes me think that
at the end of every long day if we all just did these two things, we’d all be far better off—playing with
our Legos and reading our Bibles – clearly a great combination.
Together, in Christ,