And if when I died fully I cannot say, And changed into the corpse-thing I am to-day, Yet is it that, though whiling The time somehow In walking, talking, smiling, I live not now.
– Thomas Hardy, Dead Man Walking
Although it is a popular phrase today, used by some even to mean people about to be fired or let go from their job, “dead men walking” seems gruesome to me. But it is a particularly accurate description of the existence Adam and Eve had after the Fall. In fact, it is a description of anyone’s life apart from Christ.
Obviously we won’t get far trying to convince those without Jesus that they are dead. But they already know that something is off, something is not the way it should be. The life/existence of the lost person is incongruent.
Congruency is agreement or harmony. It is a description of things working together to perform or be identified as a unified whole. But the lost person, apart from life in Christ, is not whole. How much of our art and music has come from the deep longing of the soul? How much sin has come from the search for fulfillment? How many good works have been done in the search to bring wholeness to human life?
But, apart from life in Christ, we are the walking dead. Our first parents were unable to pass on to us the life they shared with God in the Garden. That communion that fulfilled their lives, that brought them into harmony with God and each other, was lost. The grief they felt has reverberated throughout humanity to this day.
And we use hard words to describe those who remain apart from Jesus. They are lost; they walk in darkness; they are under condemnation and shame; they are in sin and in Adam; they are doomed to hell. Words of pain and struggle and grief.
This is the death that God warned them about. It was their choice, but this death was the consequence of their sin. It was more than separation from God. It was separation from life. And there was no going back.
No matter how hard or what they tried, they could never regain that life. It could never again be theirs. Good works, striving, even religion couldn’t bring it back. It was gone forever.
And the only answer was new life from outside themselves. Their only hope was in something that wasn’t theirs.