Last night’s episode of The Walking Dead was the culmination of something I predicted we’d see this season – the return of humanity.
Ever since Rick shocked us all in season 2’s “Nebraska” episode when he opened fire on two guys in a bar seemingly before was necessary we’ve watched the Rick and his group travel down a path of shoot first and don’t ask questions later.
In fact, I would argue that most of us get frustrated when the survivors don’t shoot first.
They (and we) have lost touch that those are humans lives we’ve all become so careless with.
There have been two outstanding and in-your-face examples of the brewing tension in regard to humanity.
The first has been the arrival of the Wolves. These savages seem to be holding a mirror up to the group. This is where you’re headed if you keep killing people like Pete right away or have intentions of wiping out an entire city just so you can have it.
Every time they pull the trigger without hesitation they move further from being people and more towards becoming Wolves – uncaring, unfeeling, primal animals who only are concerned with basic survival.
The second was Glenn’s death (yes, I believe he is 100% dead). Glenn was the show’s chief pure good guy. According to the Talking Dead (TWD’s aftershow) he never killed a living soul.
Look at how he was trying to help Nicholas discover his humanity by giving him a second chance. He believed in the best in people because he knew that while Nicholas did something awful he’s still a human.
His life matters and he can be redeemed.
Now that we’ve come to the most glaring example of restoring humanity to the show.
Last night’s episode may be favorite, just like the last Morgan centric episode “Clear” was a top three episode.
If you just watched it without the context of the entire season or show it may fall flat but having gone on the journey with the tribe this long made “Here’s Not Here” special.
When we left Morgan at the end of “Clear” he was essentially two steps left of being a Wolf. He had lost his wife and his son (who was turned by his wife) and all he was doing was clearing an expanding safe zone.
Enter Morgan in season 5 and we see someone who has a clear head and seems to have a strong moral center.
Last night’s episode showed the change and even explained why he used a bo staff. I always thought that was a dumb weapon choice. Now knowing that it is more a weapon to help redirect the opponent’s energy and leverage it against the opponent it makes a lot more sense.
There were several instances of watching the slow move away from “KILL ME!” to “All life is precious.”
Eastman (Morgan’s savior in many ways) provided a sense of spiritual leadership to Morgan that saved his soul from becoming an animal.
Each step of the journey was brilliant in it’s acting, delivery and pacing.
And in the end, most of us likely felt a little more like “all life is precious.”
I don’t think drawing the spiritual parallels in this episode is difficult – Morgan was certainly lost and he was saved by a man who had very little to gain from befriending a crazy person.
But there is one point that I think deserves discussion – should Christians be pacifists?
I’ll quickly say that I don’t have as concrete an answer as I once did.
Here are a few thoughts/questions I’ve been wrestling with on this topic that were reintroduced by tonight’s episode:
Christians are to love their enemies (Matthew 5.44). Is it possible to love someone and intend to do them harm? I think it could be argued tonight that Eastman certainly fought with Morgan but did not see him as his enemy.
Jesus once famously told Peter to put away his sword because “all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26.52). Is that to be taken that those who take up the guns shall die by the guns as well? Even if it is only for self defense?
And let us not forget the most famous example of what could be considered pacifism by Jesus – the laying down of his life for the sinners of the world so that we might be united with him in a full, eternal life.
How does that play out in our lives? Should we give earnest consideration that fighting violence with more violence isn’t the answer? That maybe the response of “a life for a life!” will only lead to more bloodshed than the stopping of senseless death?
These are hard things to wrestle with because we as a people and a nation take great pride in our ability to exercise physical retribution when and how we see fit.
However, I believe that those who follow Jesus need to wrestle with pacifism and to what degree we are to lay down our swords and be peace makers otherwise, we all wind up as Wolves who only see others as threats and not as humans.
Regardless of where we stand now, we have to start from the point of “All life is precious” if we are to honor God in dealing with those who are against us.