By Ross Engel –
My wife just introduced me to a new drug. It’s called: Flakka. Apparently Flakka turns you into a Zombie. And like Zombies, the people who take it have no idea what they’re doing. They stumble, moan, and are oblivious to the world around them. While on the drug, users have tried to run through glass doors. They’re impervious to pain. Jump off buildings. Run around naked. There is even a story about a young Florida man who police found eating someone’s face after he had murdered them. And in every bizarre police report, the people who are on this drug are completely unaware of what they did. While under the influence of Flakka they are completely checked out from reality, totally unaware of their actions. They lose control of their body and mind, their reason and all their senses!
I just don’t get it.
I think I understand most of the well-known recreational drugs. I can grasp why people use them. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin are probably the most well-known drugs to the average person. Some of them are legal, some are not. For the most part, people seem to use them to enhance reality or to relax in some way. More often than not, they are social drugs. Some are used to relax their users, others pump their users up, and still others have been known to reduce pain in the body or the mind. It is a completely foreign concept to me that someone would seek out a drug that would cause them to be totally unaware of reality and themselves; to become completely detached from the real world around them.
Life can be tough. I get that. We have pain. We have suffering and loss. Every day we are surrounded by sin and at times the burdens of this world can be overwhelming. People end up looking for an escape of sorts. A departure from the ordinary, a kick in the pants to better their mood, or a removal of life’s burdens (or at least caring about them). A country song once said that people either turn to drugs or Jesus.
But drugs make Zombies. And, while Zombies may look alive, they are, for all intents and purposes, dead! Checking out from life and reality isn’t the answer to our pains, our sufferings, or the rough times that we will face in this life and world. Those things that plague us will still be waiting for us when we’re done zombie-ing. We aren’t going to find rescue in some mind numbing substance or a hallucinogenic combination of “bath salts” (which aren’t really bath salts). Our rescue is found in the One who descends into the filth and suffering of this world not for the purpose of removing us from this reality, but rather to renew and redeem it (and us)!
Jesus Christ set aside the perfect glories of heaven and took on our flesh so that He could bear our burdens with us. He’s not a God that is disconnected from our sufferings or detached from the reality of life in this sinful, fallen world. Instead, He is a God that knows to His very core, what it’s like to endure the things that each of us goes through. He cried at the grave of a friend. He was ridiculed. He was poor. People told lies about Him and He suffered betrayal. He couldn’t even count on His closest friends to stand with Him in His time of need! He underwent every temptation that we know and didn’t give in to any of them! He was nailed to a tree and suffered the indescribable harshness of being forsaken by God the Father. Upon breathing His last breath, He was pierced, wrapped, and placed in someone else’s grave.
In doing all this, Jesus gives us something different than the world that we think we know! Instead of feeling alone and burdened by all the things of this world – seeking an escape from it all – Jesus delivers to us a new life and a new reality. His death purchases for us a new life in this world and an eternal life in the age to come! We are not despised by God. No longer are we reduced to being mindless zombies stumbling around through life until we’re put out of our misery. Instead, we are declared to be children of God. In baptism we are transferred from this realm of death and decay into the Kingdom of Life! We are in Christ!
We don’t need an escape! We are promised and have received new life, abundant life in Christ! This doesn’t mean that we will never suffer in this life. It doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will start going our way and the grey clouds will clear up. But it does mean that through all of life’s challenges, we won’t be going through them alone! Instead of being numbed and detached, when we suffer, we know that we are sharing in Christ’s suffering. Even death and the terrors therein, no longer need to assail us or cause us fear, for we are assured that everyone who is in Christ has been buried with Christ in baptism and if we have died with Christ, we bear in our bodies that promise that we also will rise with Christ! Death no longer has dominion over us! The way of the Zombie is obsolete! We don’t need to escape. For we have been rescued! Life has been delivered! We are redeemed!