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Dead Man Walking

by Tim O'Hearn

It is the stuff that horror stories are made of. A bunch of people are dead and buried. Then somebody sees one of them on the street. Soon they are all terrorizing the town. The walking dead are outside the house. They want to make you one of them. But you don’t want to die. You know the story. It is “The Night of the Living Dead.” Or there are the other stories—the vampires, the ghosts, or the zombies. Few people really believe the dead are walking among us, but many are afraid that they could. In truth it happens every day, and it really isn’t that scary.

The living dead are really good people. They don’t terrorize anyone, although they do sometimes try to make you one of them. Look, is that one of them sitting next to you at the restaurant? Did one check you out at the grocery store? Is your doctor one of the living dead? They are everywhere. They are Christians.

Christians are truly dead people. They have died and been buried, yet they continue to live.

How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:2-4)

What does it mean to be one of the living dead? Paul says one essential of being one of these people is that they don’t live like they used to. They don’t breathe like they used to. They don’t walk like they used to. In some of the movies you know the living dead because they walk with stiff legs and arms. With the Christians they don’t walk in sin. This doesn’t mean they can’t sin. It doesn’t mean they don’t sin. It just means that they don’t practice it. If the only way to get to Carnegie Hall is “practice, practice, practice,” a Christian will never make it to the Carnegie Hall of sin.

The other thing it means is that these living dead are the only ones that are truly alive. “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom 6:5)

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:9-11)

It seems that those who are alive to sin are dead forever, but those who are dead to sin are alive eternally. When one dies and is buried, they rise to die no more. If “a coward dies a thousand deaths; the brave man dies but once,” then the same is more true for Christians. Instead of dying every time we sin, each sin is covered. Each death is eliminated. Death is no longer king; God is.

Wherever there are Christians, somebody can quote the line from the movie, The Sixth Sense, “I see dead people.” In the movies, the living dead attack the other people. The others run, screaming, from them. The real dead people, though, are the ones others want to be like. Yes, some will want to remain in sin, and run from them. But many will decide that it is better to be the undead. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)