Read Colossians 3:12-13
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God” (1 John 3:18–19 NLT).
Again, I cannot even begin to put into words how amazing Season 11 of The Walking Dead was, not just in terms of entertainment value, but in terms of human and theological insight. The richness of the characters, the trials they have to endure, and the way faith guides them is just second to no other show I have seen. No, The Walking Dead is not a religious show. No, it is not a show centered on theology; however, it is a FAITH-BASED show in the sense that faith is one of the CENTRAL themes of the show.
Case in point, in Episode 19 of Season 11, at around 25 minutes give or take, we come across the character, Princess, talking with Ezekiel. Princess is a young woman who joined Alexandria, the community that the main characters of the show built up. She was found by herself, a sole-survivor, and was taken in by the Alexandrians. NOTE: Alexandria is called that because it is located in what used to be Alexandria, VA, outside of Washington, D.C., prior to the Zombie Apocalypse.
In this scene, Princess was trying to talk Ezekiel into leaving the Commonwealth, a community the Alexandrians left for thinking it would be a great place to live, as it was run much like the “old world” (aka the USA before the Zombie Apocalypse). The Commonwealth was well run, had a military force, and everyone within its walls seem happy, healthy, and oblivious to the world outside its walls. Yet, as Princess and the rest of the Alexandrians found out, there was more there than meets the eye.
Without spoiling anything, just like it was in the “old world”, the Commonwealth was nothing more than a ruse to keep the masses happy while those in power keep themselves wealthy and in control. There was corruption and there was a true lack of care for the lives of the common people. As is the case across the world, politics provide faux hope to the masses.
Princess, knowing this, was trying to talk Ezekiel into leaving; however, Ezekiel was a leader and an empath as well. He cared for the people he had come to know and he didn’t want to abandon them just because the world they lived in was corrupt. He felt they were worth fighting for and was willing to do what it took to make the Commonwealth better for all.
“How about Mercer, you think he’s a good man,” Ezekiel asked Princess, hoping that bringing her boyfriend up would make her reconsider leaving. “Yeah,” she responded while nodding hesitantly, “I think he is. But I’ve also known a lot of men I thought were good, and it doesn’t always turn out that way.”
“[Mercer] and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but I will say this: Most folks are trying to make the best of what’s in front of them,” Ezekiel said. “It could be he’s trying to do the same.”
Princess looked up, broken and torn, tears in her eyes, “Yeah, well maybe this time I deserve more than the best of a bad situation.”
Ezekiel looked at her, “Yeah you do”, he said with empathy as he approached her and gently put his hand on her shoulder. “And whatever you decide, I’m here if you need me.” Ezekiel then walked away to leave her to have some alone time. In that situation, Ezekiel saw Princess through the eyes of God. He saw her pain, her suffering, her desire for more than “the best of a bad situation”, and he affirmed that, indeed, she was WORTH far more than that!
In that moment, the show taught us something that the Bible teaches us. It taught us that humans are broken and want to be UNBROKEN. We want an end to the suffering, the sadness, the pain, the turmoil, the politics, the greed, the bitterness, the hate. We want to live in a world where WE are included for who we are, as opposed to who someone else wants us to be. We want to live in a world where our pain is seen and CARED FOR, rather than ignored and invalidated.
The Bible, and this episode, show us the way to begin that kind of transformation in the world. In the show, it is shown through Ezekiel, who is the presence of God in that moment for broken Princess. And his message: people are worth fighting for…including you, Princess. And I am here if you need me! He heard her and LOVED her and opened his heart to her.
For us, as witnessed to in the Bible, that transformation happens when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is then that the Holy Spirit helps us to see people through Jesus Christ’s eyes, as well as guides us to follow his example in LOVING them through our presence and our ability to listen and hear where they are coming from. True healing can only come through humble listening and empathy. Jesus, of course, IS our perfect model for what being compassionate, humble, servants is all about. If we follow him, he will continually lead us to be more and more like him and we, too, can have the effect that Ezekiel has on people in the show.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms.” – Sterling K. Brown
Lord, help me to grow in compassion, empathy, and in being present for those lost, the broken, and any who are in need. Amen.