October 27, 2013
When it comes to zombies, they aren’t just on the big screen or the popular TV shows. They are everywhere. Chances are good that we all know one; we may even be one. But the great news is that we can all wake up from this zombie-like existence.
In this message, Pastor Ed Young shows us the reality of zombies in our lives today. By looking at the very first zombie ever recorded in Scripture, he helps us discover the keys to waking up and discovering the joy of truly living.
You might be seated next to a zombie but you don’t even know it. Or maybe you do know it. That’s right, there are some zombies in our midst. That’s why I’m starting a series today called Walking Dead. It’s a very popular television show. People love Walking Dead. It’s like the zombie is the hip monster. The zombie is the hipster these days. Back in the day it was the werewolf, maybe it was Frankenstein, a few years ago the vampire, now it’s the zombie. And we’re always talking about zombies and zombie lifestyle and zombie-ology. Well, today we’re going to look at a zombie in the Bible.
Now most of you, when you think about zombies, you think about something gruesome or gross, some monster that’s moving slowly through life, aimlessly wandering around, having no clue where to go. That’s a zombie but a real zombie is someone who moves very slowly and who is unaware of what’s happening, especially it’s someone who is very tired. That’s what the dictionary says. And we use the term zombie a lot. We go, “Man, if I don’t get my sleep tomorrow I’ll be a zombie.” Or we go, “You know, I walked into my classroom and as I began to teach it was like I was talking to a bunch of zombies!” “When he heard the news he was like a zombie.” “Look at that wide receiver! I mean, the ball was thrown right to him. It was like he was a zombie.” So again, a lot of us in this place are probably seated next to zombies and we don’t even know it. Then again, some of us maybe do know it.
We’re gonna talk about the walking dead. We’re gonna talk about a zombie, because zombies are in the church. Zombies are everywhere we look. And here’s the thing about being a zombie. Those who are zombies so often don’t even know they’re zombies until they’re reminded they are zombies. In other words, those people who are asleep don’t realize they’ve been asleep until they’ve woken up. Then once you wake up you go, wow, dude! I was asleep! That’s like people who snore. You don’t know you snore, people tell you, “Hey man, you snore!” “Girl, you snore like a chainsaw!” You don’t know it until people tell you.
Well, I’m here to remind all of us not to be a zombie. I’m here to give us some zombie-ology over the next several weeks as we look and see what the Bible says about people who move very slowly. About people who aren’t really aware of what’s happening. I’m talking about people who live life who are very, very tired.
This first zombie is a cat who has a unique name. Let me read a little bit about him. Acts 20:7-9. This is over in the New Testament. You can follow along with me. “On the first day of the week…”
That’s interesting. The church met on the first day of the week. Sunday is the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection. God is a God, we know, of the first. The first day of the week. We give him the first day of the week, he blesses the rest. We give him the first portion of our income, he blesses the rest. We give him the first part of the day, he blesses the rest.
“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people (that’s the apostle Paul, St. Paul) and because he intended to leave the next day kept on talking until midnight.” And you sometimes think I speak too long. “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man (read there ‘zombie’ – read there a person who moves very slowly, a person who is very tired) named Eutychus…” Is that a great name? Say it with me, one-two-three, Eutychus. “…who was sinking into a deep sleep.” I told ya it’s in the Bible!
Paul is preaching, people are hanging on every word. Eutychus, this young guy, finds a great seat in the window sill watching Paul speak. Don’t you know he was enthralled? But after a while he became a zombie. Everything kinda slowed down. His eyelids became heavy. He closed one, then both, then <snoring sound effect> he just relaxed. And out of nowhere he fell out of the window sill, three stories down <aaaaaahhh!!!> onto the pavement. People began to freak… screams, gasps. Paul ran down three flights of stairs, grasped him, held him, prayed for him. Eutychus just jumped right up.
I love the name Eutychus because you’da cussed too if you’d a fallen three stories out of a window sill. Eutychus was the first zombie. The first record we have of a zombie in church. The first record we have of someone sleeping, of someone losing it in church. And definitely Eutychus has had many, many successors.
This concept of sleep, this concept of being a zombie, this concept of sleepwalking through life, this concept of a walking dead person is a concept that is pretty current but also it’s pretty common in the Bible.
In Ephesians, the New Testament book of Ephesians 5:14 and following, it says, “Wake up, oh sleeper. Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
I would say many of us here, many of us listening to my voice right now, are zombies. You’re sleeping to really knowing God. You’re sleeping to really knowing what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible tell us that when we’re born we’re gonna die. Yet, we have an opportunity to be born again. So if we have two births we die once. If we have one birth we die twice. The Bible says that we face an eternity and we choose our eternal home, either in Heaven or in Hell.
And I would say that a lot of people that I talk to know about God but they don’t really know him. Could it be that you know about God but you’ve never really established a relationship with him? God took the initiative by commissioning Christ to live a sinless life, to die a sacrificial death. All you have to do, all I have to do, is receive what he did for me. And through Christ, through my relationship and through knowing Christ I know what God’s plan is for my life. I understand the potential and I’ll live forever and ever. Yet many people, many people, are a zombie when it comes to knowing the Lord.
You know, it’s funny about sleep. You don’t really know you’re asleep until you wake up. Then once you wake up you go, “Oh, I was asleep.” And that happens so often when I talk to people about Jesus. It’s like they’ll go, “Yeah, I was asleep, I was a zombie and didn’t know I was a zombie until I met the Lord. Now, looking back, I was a zombie!”
So today you can become alive. You can move from a zombie to a child of God by knowing the Lord, by knowing Jesus Christ. Have you met Christ? Have you been born again? Have you asked him to come into your life? Because the enemy loves to try and put believers to sleep. He tries to put us to sleep so we will not invite those who are far away from God to church. He tries to make us asleep to a lot of opportunities and a lot of chances, and a lot of avenues that God wants us to take. It’s almost as if he sings a nursery rhyme…
“Rock a bye Christian, in the treetop.
Snoozing will cause your growth to stop.
Ignore the alarm and stay in bed,
You look like a zombie, you sleepyhead.”
That’s pretty good. Some of us can be a zombie when it comes to knowing God. I think others of us can be a zombie to sowing the kind of seed that God wants us to sow in our short life. When we become believers we receive the seed of the Word of God, the soils are fertile, the seed germinates, it begins to grow, we produce that fruit, that supernatural fruit that Galatians chapter 5 first fruit. Love, peace, joy, and so forth and so on. That’s what happens when we allow the seed to be sown into our lives. We produce fruit and every piece of fruit has the potential in it to grow more fruit and more fruit and more fruit. That’s the seeds.
Some here go to church. You come to Fellowship Church and Fellowship Church is your home church. Yet you can be a zombie. You could be asleep when it comes to sowing your gifts, your abilities, your marriage, your family, even your finances, your resources into this fertile soil. I don’t want you to miss that because you could live a life where you’re walking dead if you miss that. And for so many people it has to do with the sowing of their lives. Are you sowing?
I want to challenge you today, I want to challenge you for the next 30 days, just mark your calendars for the next 30 days to serve somewhere, to sow your seed here, the first 10% of what you make, you sow it to the church. You begin to share what God is doing as he gives you opportunity. And after 30 days if your life is not better than it is today we’ll give you your money back and say, “Man, you’re the first person I ever met whose life is jacked up who did life God’s way.” That’s how intentional, that’s how excited we are about wanting people to be alive to the life changing power of the Lord.
The enemy, though, I mean he’s not gonna play around, does his best work when we’re zombies. You remember Samson? The guy who had so much strength, so much ability. You remember Samson? His last opportunity to really change and to be a decade difference maker happened when he was put to sleep. You remember Jonah, that running man? Jonah, God said go this way and Jonah went the opposite way. Jonah found himself aboard a ship going the opposite direction of where God wanted. What happened? Jonah fell. Asleep and almost missed it.
I think about Peter, James, and John. The night Jesus needed them the most he said, “Guys, will you pull an all-nighter? Will you stay up and watch and pray with me?” Repeatedly these guys went to sleep. I’m talking about this zombie mentality.
I could make a case obviously for zombie-ology and theology in the Bible because there’s a lot of people who move very slowly and who aren’t aware of what’s happening, and they’re very tired. They’re tired because they’re trying to do life their way instead of God’s way. You do it God’s way, you’re gonna have that energy. You’re gonna have that focus. You’re gonna have the ability to separate the superfluous from the significant. If you don’t, you’re gonna be in trouble.
So many of us could be a zombie when it comes to knowing, sowing, also we can be a zombie when it comes to growing. God wants us to develop. God wants us to grow and a lot of people are young chronologically yet they’re old spiritually, because you’ve mastered and are mastering the spiritual disciplines of solitude and meditation and prayer and Bible reading and involvement in the church. Yet others here are old chronologically, yet you’re very, very young spiritually because you’ve been a zombie when it’s come to these things. Living things grow. That’s why Fellowship Church grows. That’s why I must grow. That’s why you must grow. Growing is being a part of the church.
One of the trends that frights me and frightens a lot of my friends and other men and women who are Christian leaders is this zombie-istic mentality that attends church once every two weeks, once every three weeks, once every six weeks. I’m here to tell you, and I say this out of love, you will never, ever grow and mature and become the kind of person that God wants you to become when you are a church zombie. It’s not gonna happen. At least Eutychus was in church but so many of us, because of so many other things in our lives, we miss the opportunity of getting involved. We don’t know what to do in relationships. We don’t know what decisions to make. We don’t know what paths to take because our heart doesn’t meet fast for the only thing that Jesus ever built, the local church.
I look around and see the most successful families that I know here at Fellowship Church. They’re people who are committed to church attendance. Something supernatural takes place. Something that wakes me up in my soul and wakes you up in your soul takes place when we gather together and when we answer the call and when we hear from the Word of God, when we worship him corporately and come together as a body of Christ.
Successful families aren’t successful because they go to church. Success is the result of them being planted in the House. It’s a byproduct of that. You plant the seed in the right soil, you water it, it’s gonna grow. And the byproduct is gonna be a bumper crop! Galatians 5 fruit! So that is what we want. So parents, today is the day to say, you know what? As for me and my house, we’re gonna serve the Lord. We are going to have our kids at church. We’re gonna have them in the children’s ministry, we’re gonna have them in the student ministry, we’re gonna be here on Wednesday nights, we’re gonna show up on the weekends. And I’m here to tell you, God’s way works. If there was another way that works I would do it. But I’ve not found one and I’m just sharing with you what the Bible says.
God does not want us to be zombies when it comes to knowing, sowing, growing, and also going. Going. When you see zombies on television and in movies, very slow, very methodical. They’re going but they’re going nowhere. I meet so many people as I do life who are like that. Just wandering aimlessly through life with no direction and no purpose. Sometimes I want to stop if I’m in a restaurant by myself eating and studying, or at a coffee stop and overhear some people talking, sometimes I want to just break into a conversation and go, “You’re going nowhere! I mean, what’s the deal?” Recreate, procreate, do deals, and die? I mean, like that’s the meaning of life? That’s why you’re here? To make as much money as you can? To bed down as many women as you can? To buy as many toys as you can? That’s it?
There’s more! These people are zombies and they don’t know it! They’re asleep and they don’t know it! When you’re asleep you don’t know it until after you are awake! I’ve been asleep. Today could be your wakeup call. Today the alarm, it might say 5:14. It’s blinking. That red glow. 5:14. Ephesians 5:14. “Wake up, oh sleeper. Rise from the dead.” Sounds like a zombie to me. “… and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise (thank you, that’s my zombie. I do a zombie dance> not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.”
It doesn’t mean the days are always bad, it just means time is running out. Time is short. “Therefore, don’t be foolish.” I like what my friends in the Bahamas say. Don’t be doing fool, man. Don’t be doing fool. “Don’t me foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
The only way, listen to me, the only way we can ever understand what God’s desire is for our lives is when we live in sync with Him. It’s when we <alarm sound effect> wake up! Hey zombies, wake up! Stop sleepwalking through life, moving slowly, going nowhere! Where are you going? I mean, when you get to where you’re going, where will you be? Where? You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die. Are you ready to die?
I believe many are the walking dead. And our great God wants us to be alive. Look at how many times he talks about life, life, life, life, life, life, life. The abundant life.
Illus: I grew up like many people did watching Johnny Carson. Even as a young guy I admired his talent, his ability to converse, to just produce night after night after night. I mean, Johnny, he was a cool cat. He’s the king of the talk show, he’s the man. He had the world by the tail. The most well-paid entertainer, while he was alive, on the planet. Fame. He was invited to all the parties, everything. But one of his best friends said the only time Johnny was happy was that hour and a half every night as he came into our living rooms and bedrooms with the Tonight Show. He didn’t spend time with his kids, didn’t spend time with his wives, was out chasing these women all over the place, making bazillions of dollars, a walking corpse. The few people who sort of knew him said he was the most miserable guy they’ve ever met. Bursts of anger, vulgarity out of nowhere. Yeah, he would do some things that were generous now and then. He could carry on a conversation a little while, but your heart just went out to him. You wanted to shake him and say (of course he’s dead now), “Johnny, Johnny, wake up! You’re a zombie! You’re a dead man!” I saw his death certificate and it said 2005. But Johnny Carson died a long, long time before 2005. He was a walking corpse.
“How can you say that, Ed?” He didn’t know Christ. I pray somehow on his death bed, right before he breathed his last breath, he made that decision but I seriously doubt it. So, none of us here by aimlessly wandering through life are gonna find the way. The way is for us. The way has been given to us. We either go Christ’s way or not. And once we go Christ’s way, no longer are we aimlessly wandering through life, directionless, now we have purpose. We have power. We have strength in the midst of weakness. We have a vitality and an excitement that the world cannot offer. It’s like Mohammed Ali said in the height of his fame. Mohammed Ali said, “I had the world by the tail and it ain’t nuthin’.” God wants you to know him today. Seek the opportunity today.
Another time in Acts 24, the apostle Paul was preaching to some power brokers. And the Bible says in verse 25 of Acts 24. “As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now. You can leave. When I find it convenient I will send for you.’”
Felix and his wife Drusilla never had another opportunity to wake up. That was their last opportunity they ever had to move from a zombie, someone who was asleep, to someone who was alive in Christ.
So don’t let the enemy say, “Well, Ed, you know what, I will show up at a more convenient time. Let me get my stuff straightened out and then I’ll think about the things of God. Let me take care of this, and let me take care of my unfinished business…” Now, the Bible says, is your day of salvation. Which means now is your day to give your life to Christ. You can do it. You can do it by simply receiving him. Because some of you are sleepwalking through life. Some of you are tired because you’ve been trying to do life your way. Some of you feel like a zombie and today you can make that call.
How do you do it? Just simply by praying this prayer along with me. Bow your heads with me for a moment. Just say, “God, I admit to you that I’ve been a zombie. That I’ve been doing life my way. That’ I’m just sleepwalking through life. And God, right now I wake up to your power. I wake up to the fact that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, and right now I receive that and I ask you to take control of my life.” And the moment you said that Christ is giving you purpose, he’s forgiving you of your sins, he’s cleansing you, and you will have a vitality and a purpose and a victory from here to eternity. No longer zombie-ology but theology. God’s way. Doing it God’s style, because that’s how we’re wired. We ask all these things in Christ’s name. Amen.