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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spiritual Lessons From “The Walking Dead” Season 5 - Part 1

  • I originally detested the thought of watching a show full of gore and dead people.
  • I’ve only watched one full season of TWD: Season 5.
  • This post will not cover any theories of eschatology (the study of the end times).
  • The show in no way connects specifically to any religious belief, and this post does not intend to suggest the show is about any particular religion.

AMC’s The Walking Dead is a TV series based in the time of a Zombie Apocalypse. The show primarily follows a group of survivors trying to make life work in the midst of a dying world. I recently began watching the series in the latter half of the fifth season. Although the survivors have no specific connections to any religious sect, as I watched, I surprisingly found myself paralleling the characters’ experiences with many biblical principals. This post will cover the first five biblical principals that came to mind as I watched the season five. (Part 2 can be found here)

1. Everything Has Purpose
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Tyreese has lost many loved ones, and against his own moral compass, killed many zombies, Walkers, and some people. He struggles to recuperate from the grief and guilt, but ultimately decides to live. In making this decision, he finds himself the caretaker of a baby, Judith, two other children, and a woman, Carol who murdered his girlfriend. His grief turns into purpose as he is able to save other people despite his own loss. Tyreese is later able to share his wisdom with Noah (See Fig. 1) who just discovers his own family has died. Tyreese’s words to Noah made me think of Romans 8:28. Many times one may believe the sole purpose of some life events is to bring pain, but there are good elements somewhere along the line in every situation.

Figure 1: Tyreese encourages Noah about as he laments the loss of his family.
Source: S05 - Episode 9

2. Satan Is an Accuser
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.” Zechariah 3:1 (NIV)

During a hallucination, all the people in Tyreese’s past sit around and take part in a gathering regarding Tyreese’s life choices. In particular, the Governor, Tyreese’s ex-boss, condemns Tyreese’s good nature and his forgiveness of Carol for murdering his girlfriend. The Governor taunted Tyreese about his “good” ways having no place in a dying world. Satan often nags us about the negatives of our past, so we remain bound to situations we cannot change. He posits accusations that we should be like everyone else in the world around us, even when we stand out for the good. There is no freedom in guilt. Tyreese, committed to live with freedom of mind, tells his hallucinations that they are dead to him and that he knows who he is. (See Fig. 2)

Figure 2: Tyreese speaks to his hallucinations.
Source: S05 - Episode 9

3.  Do Not Forsake the Assembly
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together….” Hebrews 10:24-25a (NKJV)

Sasha has lost her brother Tyreese, and boyfriend Bob. She’s propelled to take her anger out on the Walkers and struggles with surges of excessive rage through killing. As Sasha goes through another fit of rage, Michonne (having transcended that state of mind regarding the deaths of her brother and husband) understands and commands Sasha not to “go there.” She remains accountable to Sasha throughout the season, keeping an eye out for her mental well-being, and reminds her that she doesn’t have to live in anger and bitterness. Without the group, Sasha would surely have died or committed suicide (See Fig. 3). Hebrews 11: 24-25 speaks to the need for accountability and encouragement from other believers. With no one’s past any better than the next person’s, each person brings support, comfort, and connectedness in a world demanding revenge and selfishness.

Figure 3: Michonne chastises Sasha for thinking about and wanting to attack a herd of Walkers alone. 
Source: S05 - Episode 10

4. Trust Is a Must
“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Psalm 112:7

Rick struggles with the decision to go to Alexandria with Aaron, a stranger. He knows the group needs a safe haven. They have almost been “out there” too long. Their mental and physical health is declining and Aaron presents a very enticing opportunity of hope and safety for the survivors (See Fig. 4). Rick does not want to put himself or the group in harm’s way, but knows they are equally unsafe remaining where they are. Often worry consumes our judgment and past experiences cloud our ability to “take another chance.” Psalm 112:7 came to mind as Rick spoke. In life situations there is no algorithm for the right answer, one has to make the decision to take a chance and trust the Lord even in the midst of great uncertainty. 

Figure 4: Rick talking to Michonne about deciding to go to Alexandria with Aaron.
Source: S05 - Episode 11

5. Love Will Show Them
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 (NKJV)

Despite the unpleasant past of each survivor, Rick’s group maintains a sense of sincerity. Although the majority of them are complete strangers, they somehow became family. Each member is accountable and protective of the other members. As the group arrives to Alexandria, the leader Deanna, interviews each one to determine if they would succeed in Alexandria’s vibrant community. During her interview with Rick, Deanna says she wants to be part of Rick’s family, although she had only heard about the group from her scouts (See Fig. 5). In one’s life as a Christian, there should be something peculiar and enticing about the way s/he lives. Despite one’s individual past, their current way of living should prompt others to “want in.”

Figure 5: Deanna speaking to Rick upon his group’s arrival to Alexandria.
Source: S05 – Episode 12
To be continued…Part 2

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