I still haven’t figured why, but “The Walking Dead” is one of the most popular shows on television. Even Christians get a rush from a program filled with diseased, hungry, undead zombies and the fight to stay alive in a world filled with them.
No, I’m not a fan, and I’m not living in fear or anticipation of a coming zombie apocalypse (though I do believe something terrible will come one day). The pictures and commercials I see are enough to know that as a person already susceptible to images, I don’t need those ones stuck in my head.
Recently, though, I thought of those rotting undead as the perfect example of a gruesome sight. Maybe you heard something over the recent Easter season, or from some preacher over the years. It makes me think of what God might see when He loks upon us in our sin.
The real face of sin
If you haven’t heard, sin is ugly. Worse than any fairy tale step-sister or some flesh-eating disease, sin takes the beautiful creation humanity and horribly disfigures it. (If you’ve seen the film Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom, think face of the leper king.)
Sin is also dirty. It is filthy, rotten, smelly, make your eyes burn and your stomach church kind of dirty. No would go near it, and no detergent or oxygen-booster could wash it away.
With all of that information in your mind, build a picture of your life, no matter how good you think it is, tainted by sin. And don’t just put a little mud under your eyes because you’ve been “good” for a few weeks or a few years. Scripture says there is no one who is righteous, the best we can is like filthy rags, and if you break one of God’s rules, it’s like breaking them all at once.
Now consider God Almighty, holy and pure. He created us in His image to live in relationship with Him. We were made perfect and pure, without knowledge of what is evil. We are part of the Creation God looked up and considered “very good.” Until sin entered Creation and marred it and the human race. Those created as beautiful and pure became disfigured and stained.
God’s reaction to the effects of sin
When God met with Adam and Eve on the day of their sin, how much did His heart break? What did He see as He looked upon those He loved so much? Instead of the glorious ones He created and breathed life into, did God see “the walking dead”?
It is said that God hates sin. This is one explanation for Jesus’ feelings of abandonment on the cross, asking why God had forsaken Him. God the Father pulled away from the only begotten Son, or turned his back on Jesus because of the sin He bore on the cross.
While sin is certainly incompatible with the character of God, hate is not. It is this type of conclusion, “God hates sin”, that leads to mantras like “Hate the sin but love the sinner,” which sounds right but can produce a multitude of problems.
A better approach is to focus on another aspect of God’s character: compassion. This is the way Jesus responded sin’s effects on Creation and humanity. Compassion moved Him to welcome and heal.
In one instance, Jesus left the crowds to mourn the death of John the Baptist. They intruded on the solitude He was looking for. Instead of being by compassion, what if He was frustrated, left them alone, and sought a place where He could find some peace and quiet? But Jesus isn’t like that, and neither is the Father.
When God met Adam and Eve in the Garden after their sin, He neither turned His back on them, nor destroyed them in holy wrath. A song from the 90’s mentions how God could have started over on Mars. No, God looked at His marred creation and had compassion on them. Instead of destroying them, God provided for the forgiveness of their sin with the first sacrifice.
Though spiritually we may look like “the walking dead” in God’s sight, twisted and tainted by sin, God does not desire to chop us up or wipe us out. As gross as we must look, He loves us.
In His heart, which breaks at the depth of our fallenness, God see the glorious creations we are meant to be. His greatest hope is that we all might turn from our sin and be united with Him in a personal relationship.
Thankfully, the sacrifice of Jesus has the power to take this disfigured mess, and recreate us as children of God. All we have to do is repent and believe.
Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:14, NLT)
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9, NLT)