For many of you, your neighborhoods have started to look a lot like mine does. With Halloween just around the corner, there are all sorts of yard decorations with skeletons, cobwebs, blood, gravestones, and scary images that make you think of one thing: Death.
It’s an interesting thing that happens every year. We live in a culture that doesn’t usually like to deal with death. People are uncomfortable talking about it. It’s something that, in many people’s minds, is relegated to hospitals—conveniently behind closed doors so most people can’t see it. Death is something usually avoided. It’s certainly not what everyone wants on their minds and all over their front yards.
Unless it’s Halloween time. Why is that?
I wonder if there’s something in the human psyche that, deep down, is fascinated with death and horror. Because it’s closer to our lived experience than most of us realize. There’s something inside that knows the walking dead is more of a reality than people may think.
In the Bible, God tells us about this reality and how it can become something so much better.
- Everyone is (or at least was) the walking dead. The Bible says, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live” (Ephesians 2:1,2). Dead and living at the same time. This is the state of spiritual death God says everyone is born into. It’s because the first human beings disobeyed God. That means now everyone lives in the devastating effects of this disobedience called sin: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Moving skeletons in the front lawn make a decent illustration of the horrible reality we were born into.
- The walking dead can truly live. The awful state of spiritual death is not what God wants for us. He made people to live—really live in a tremendous existence of perfect relationships with him and everyone else. It sounds impossible, but God made it possible through the greatest act of love the world has seen. Jesus, the truly perfect one, died to make us alive. The Bible says, “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (Ephesians 2:4,5). The spiritually dead can live! It’s all because of Jesus Christ whose death paid the enormous wages of sin on our behalf. And when you’re alive in Christ, you’re not a moving skeleton covered in cobwebs. You are full of life because of the richness of God’s mercy.
- Death isn’t the end. There’s even more good news. Even though everyone must face death, it is not the end. Jesus rose to life after dying on the cross. Jesus promised, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Death doesn’t get the final say. Everyone who believes in Jesus never truly dies but lives forever with God, living in a perfect existence with God and others. And even our bodies will come back. And they’ll come back better than ever. For all who believe in Jesus, he “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Not a ghost. Not a scary, limping body. No, the most beautiful version of you there can be. A version that looks a lot more like Jesus.
I’ll be honest, the more I experience and hear about the very real, scary, horrible things in this world, the more I dislike all the Halloween stuff. There’s enough that scares me in real life that I don’t feel the need to have scary pretend things too.
But maybe those decorations can be an illustration for me of something that isn’t pretend. Something that is very real. The reality God reveals to us in the Bible. We were all the spiritually walking dead. If God left us to ourselves, it would have been a horror for us. It would have been terrifying. If God left us to ourselves, it would have been the scariest thing ever.
But he didn’t.