There is a popular TV show about walking dead people. These are not the kind of people that you want to hang out with. Yet, in real life, there are walking dead that we hang out with everyday. We trust them to tell us how to live, how to spend our money, how to have fun and even how to love. I know, you are thinking who would be that crazy. Why would any one trust walking dead people?
Well, for one thing the real walking dead don’t appear dead. They aren’t necessarily scary in appearance. They may even be extremely attractive. They are often indistinguishable from those who are truly alive. Here the TV show has one distinct advantage over real life: in the show the walking dead are easy to identify! In real life, not so much! In real life, the walking dead show no physical signs of being dead. Their creepiness is not physically, immediately obvious. In real life the walking dead are far more dangerous than their TV counterparts. They are capable of making you believe that God’s truth is a lie.
In Ephesians 2:1-5 Paul tells us that we all began life as the walking dead, willing subjects following of the rule of God’s enemy. We believed lies rather than truth. We were invested in suppressing the truth of God. We were committed to our own glory and not to God’s.
So what is the agenda of the real walking dead? Verse 3 spells it out: self-interest, self-pleasure and immediate gratification. In young children this is expressed in whining and complaining. One toy looks better than another, especially if her brother has it. There is a constant attitude of “I want it now!” The idea of putting others first, “I don’t think so.” Children who demonstrate these actions will not grow out of them unless they become spiritually alive. They will only become more sophisticated in their masquerade of appearing to be alive as they grow into adulthood.
The really important question is how can you identify the real walking dead? The answer is to look for fruit of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. This genuine fruit cannot be duplicated by the walking spiritual dead! Here is this genuine fruit:
love – giving willingly of whatever I have to meet someone’s need, because of Christ.
joy – believing that God will work all things together for my good.
peace – is not the absence of conflict, but knowing God’s calm in the midst of conflict.
patience – living in the expectation of God’s care and grace.
kindness – being thoughtful and quick to do good for others, even if it costs.
goodness – being focused on bringing honor to God and not to yourself.
faithfulness – being dependable, so that people and God can trust what you say and do.
gentleness – using only the strength or force that is appropriate to serve God well.
self-control – the ability to say no to my wrong desires and say yes to what God wants.
In those who are spiritually alive this fruit will be present. The fruit may not always be fully ripened, it may be still budding, nevertheless the evidence of this fruit of being genuinely alive will be present in some form.
The walking dead may try to mimic these things, but they will always fail, their selfishness will always be evident. Here is an important life lesson: don’t expect the Spirit’s fruit from the walking dead. All that they have to give is the same toxic fruit that is destroying them.
Use the Spirit’s fruit to identify the real walking dead. Don’t taste their fruit, but show them the excellence of the real fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the evidence of life that is truly life.