The Walking Dead is an AMC series about the zombie apocalypse that a lot of people love. It’s too gory for my taste, but hey, to each his own. I was surprised to learn recently that there really are a lot of walking dead around. I’m referring to the 14,000 people who are mistakenly declared dead in this country every year. Roughly 1 in every 200 reported deaths is a mistake.*
How does this happen?
The most common causes are human error (someone hitting the wrong key on the computer) and computer glitches. Unfortunately, the mistake can’t be corrected as easily as it is made. When a person is declared dead, a system kicks in that reclassifies a person’s status with the government, banks, and businesses, all in an effort to keep hackers from assuming a dead person’s identity and having a field day with his finances. Thus, the person who has been declared dead is faced with the challenge of proving he is alive.
You’d think that a simple phone call, or maybe showing up at your local bank would suffice. Not so fast. You will be required to find out what entity declared you dead, why, and, if a death certificate was issued, supply the proof necessary to have it amended. This could take months. In the meantime, don’t even think about applying for credit, getting a driver’s license, getting married, etc.
Let’s think about this from a spiritual angle.
If someone declared you spiritually dead, what evidence could you present to prove that you are still alive?
Would you talk about how often you go to church? Would you list the ministries you’re involved in at your church? Would you start ticking off all the bad habits you don’t have? I suspect this would be the tendency for most of us.
However, a better way to answer this question might be along the lines of what Paul says in Romans 8:9-10:
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
You can see from the words I’ve highlighted that Paul’s concern is not on whether or not we are alive, but on whether or not Jesus and his Spirit are alive within us. That is a very different question, is it not?
Say it out loud and think about it: What I am doing is not nearly as important as what is being done in me.
When you embrace that truth and start living it, no one will mistake you for one of the walking dead.