So why zombies? Why are they popular? What’s so adorable about a zombie? The idea of a mindless, reanimated corpse with a hunger for human flesh doesn’t sound like the stuff of romance novels. Yet there is something about zombies with which most people can identify. Zombies are people or animals that have no will of their own and are controlled by another entity or simply controlled by their most base instinctive drives. Oh, and of course, zombies are dead. Many people feel like zombies at different times in their lives; they are being controlled by their boss or someone else in their life, they are employed at a mindless job, they are going to school because they have to, they are simply going through life not really feeling anything. Some are caught up in addictions, some are simply numb to the world from being hurt so many times.
When the bible describes this mindless existence as the “walking dead” (Ephesians 2:2) it is referring to a spiritual deadness. Sin, our moral failures and disobedience to God’s law, caused us to be dead to God, dead to spiritual things. The passage continues saying we were “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of the flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:2-3). The “prince of the power of the air” refers to Satan and his control of us. We were not necessarily possessed, but we were being controlled, manipulated by Satan for his war against God. When I refer to Satan, I’m not referring to some practical joker in red underwear. Many people don’t believe that Satan is a real being, and if that describes you, that’s OK. Keep reading and I think it will start to make sense. Satan was originally one of the most beautiful of God’s creations and was called an Angel of Light. But more on that later!
Later in Ephesians Paul, the author, picks up the battle and writes, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12). He tells us it is not a physical battle, but it is a battle for control. Satan wants to control you in his war on God.
The battle of unbelief, the battle to lose weight, the battle to stop smoking, the battle over sin, the battles we all face are really battles for control: who or what will we allow to control us? Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:3 that our desires control us, but Satan is aware of those desires and he uses those desires to conspire against us. Paul recognized his own internal battle in Romans 7:15, 19-20 when he confessed, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” Paul had battles! (You can almost picture him getting ready to pull his hair out!) But from this passage and others, we begin to see that there is an internal battle with sin, and there is an external battle with Satan.
You may say, “That seems far-fetched, Satan trying to control us.” But God gives us illustrations of it in nature.
In the tropical climates of Africa, South Asia and the Pacific islands lives a unique wasp called the Emerald Cockroach Wasp or the Jewel Wasp. This small emerald-colored wasp hunts down a cockroach three times its size. Somehow it knows how to sting the cockroach in just the right spot to disable the roach’s flight or fight mechanism. The wasp stings the roach again causing it to constantly groom itself and become docile and lethargic. At this point the roach’s thinking is hazy, it’s flight or fight mechanism has been disabled and it is totally consumed with self (sounds like many people I know). The wasp goes away to build a nice nest and comes back to invite the roach for dinner. The wasp bites off a piece of one of the roach’s antennae and sucks out a little blood (nest building is hard work and she needs to keep her strength up). She then leads the cockroach back to its new nest, using the antennae as a leash. The compliant cockroach thinks that dinner sounds good, but doesn’t realize he will be on the menu.
Once safely back in the nest, the wasp plants a larva on the belly of the cockroach. The larva begins to feed on the cockroach, from the inside out, one organ at a time. The larva somehow knows the correct sequence for dinner so that it eats the non-vital organs first allowing the cockroach to live for 8 more days, but with a pretty big tummy ache. Eventually the larva has become a fully formed wasp and leaves the empty shell of a cockroach behind as evidence of the homicide.
A fairly macabre story, at least from the roach’s perspective. Yet, that is similar to how Satan controls us. We are stung by experiences where our expectations aren’t fulfilled. A parent leaves us, someone abuses us, or a boyfriend/girlfriend hurts us. Satan twists our interpretation of those experiences to lead us to believe that God either didn’t care or was powerless to intervene. With that one sting, we begin to be led down a path to bondage. Another sting, another emotional wound and we become focused on self, appearance or success or any other substitute for God. Satan now has us on a leash, we have believed his lies so our fight or flight mechanism has been disabled, and suddenly we feel powerless and out of control. We feel like we are being eaten alive and the emotional pain is intolerable, so we don’t think about it, but simply try to put it out of our mind by medicating the pain through drugs, alcohol, sex, pleasure, success, amusement, virtual realities or any number of escapes the world has to offer.
Do you know of other zombie-like creatures in nature? Who do you feel is controlling you? Please help me and others go a little deeper by sharing your experience.
In my next post we will look at a picture of our enemy.