Christian writers tend either to ignore Halloween or focus exclusively on the dark and macabre stuff associated with it. But since yet another spooky Halloween is on the horizon this weekend, maybe it’s time to break with tradition and give some thought to subjects largely overlooked at Halloween . . . like “cockroaches”. And in particular, the probing question we’ve all wondered about from time to time . . . “Do cockroaches experience anxiety?”
A Less than Scientific Conclusion ~
Having pondered the question now for several minutes, my conclusion is that they probably do not. Now in the interest of transparency, I must confess that I haven’t a shred of scientifically derived evidence to support my conclusion. But since elected officials, political hacks with MD degrees, pseudo-journalists, academic elites, and social media censors get away with that kind of thing every day, I decided to invoke the same privilege.
On the off-chance that I’m wrong and it turns out that cockroaches really do worry about stuff, then those that happen to live in the Mekong Delta region of Thailand should be having outright panic attacks. Case in point: a heretofore undiscovered wasp has been found in the area, and apparently, its venom turns ordinary cockroaches into little cockroach zombies.
Terror from the Air ~
The wasp, dubbed the Ampulex Dementor by its discoverers, flies around until it spots a juicy, unsuspecting cockroach. Then it zooms down and injects a drug directly into a bunch of brain neurons that the roach happens to have in its belly – and that effectively turns them into cockroach zombies. My research didn’t reveal why cockroaches would be running around with their brains in their bellies, but I’m sure they have a good reason.
Although the impact isn’t instantly lethal, once the wasp zaps its poison into the hapless bug’s belly-brain, the roach is pretty much history. It remains officially alive after the attack, but it loses the ability to control its own movements. Once the venom is injected, the wasp assumes total control and can calmly drag its prey off to some secluded place and munch on it at its leisure until there’s nothing left but an empty shell. Then it flies off in search of another defenseless meal.
A Different Scenario ~
We’re all too familiar with zombie stories and movies in this culture, but the drama unfolding in the bug world is a bit different. In the usual scenario, the half-dead zombies wobbling around with their arms stuck out and blank looks on their faces (often mistaken as an SNL Presidential impression) are the ones inciting terror, but this little oriental bug drama turns it around. In the insect realm, the villains aren’t the brain-numbed zombie roaches, it’s the dreaded wasp with the zombie-making venom that’s to be feared. The bug version of the story the evokes compassion for the zombies, which would make it a hard sell for human audiences because, let’s face it, dredging up pity for a cockroach would be tough.
As bizarre as it sounds, the notion of dead people being mysteriously reanimated and preying upon the living is not a new thing. Some form of zombie stories have been found in nearly every culture for thousands of years. The extensive list of zombie movies in this country alone goes all the way back to 1932, and in addition, the genre boasts hundreds of screenplays, books, short stories, stage productions, and video games. What may be more relevant, and perhaps more surprising, is the realization that God suggested a similar kind of condition 2,000 years ago.
An Underlying Curiosity ~
The popularity of stories like this might seem a bit strange, but there’s an underlying curiosity that sustains them. The mysteries of life always intrigue us. We want to know things like how to protect and sustain the life we have, and we want to know what happens to people when they die. Zombie stories address the conflict between life and death, and they blur the boundaries between the two in a way that challenges the nature and reality of both. Regardless of how the stories end, none of the important questions are ever answered, and that may be the most frightening thing of all.
As usual, God was way ahead of the fiction writers and offered His own sort of zombie story. In it, He also wraps life and death together in a single human package, but unlike the fiction writers, God provides answers. The Bible makes it clear that life exists in two distinct and very real dimensions, a physical one and a spiritual one. Thus a single individual can be alive in one dimension, but dead in another. From that perspective, all of us were spiritual zombies before coming to faith in Jesus Christ. God describes it this way:
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 2:1-2 NKJV)
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, (Colossians 2:13 NKJV)
He also offered this warning to certain women devoting their lives to the pursuit of self-indulgent luxuries:
But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. (1 Timothy 5:6 NKJV)
Granted, the New Testament isn’t supporting the modern idea of zombies, and we certainly aren’t cockroaches. We’re sophisticated human beings. We’re nothing like those darkness-loving, disease-spreading, scavenging consumers of garbage who run around carrying their brains in their belly… But wait . . . In light of some of our tendencies these days, maybe we should re-think that. Regardless, there are other similarities in the story worth noting.
Disturbing Similarities ~
We also have a mortal enemy whose presence and influence permeate the culture surrounding us. He doesn’t fly around like a wasp, although he is called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), and he does have a venom to inject that has a paralyzing effect on us. His desire is to do the same thing to us that the Asian wasp does to its victims. He wants to infect our brains in a way that renders us as helpless and doomed as those hapless cockroaches.
The venomous potion Satan uses is a mixture of deceptive philosophies, false assertions, and seductive promises that he blends into our natural desire for self-indulgent pleasures and the rebellious tendencies of a fallen nature. The effects of that combination can render us unable, and even unwilling, to resist the control of the self-destructive inclinations implanted in our brains. The venom isn’t instantly lethal, but it prevents reactions designed for self-protection and preservation. With those defenses disabled, the enemy, like the zombie-making wasp, is free to suck the life out of his victims until nothing remains but a dead, empty shell.
But there’s good news, and we can take heart, because we have something the cockroach doesn’t have. We have a Savior, and He has an antidote. Jesus subjected Himself to the full force of the enemy’s venom, and the blood He shed for us on the cross has the power to neutralize our adversary’s sting, render his poison ineffective, and set us free.
With another Halloween approaching, it’s refreshing to know that in a world full of enemies, venom, and zombie cockroaches, there’s still overcoming power and eternal life in Jesus Christ!
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “We have a mortal enemy whose presence and influence permeates the culture surrounding us. He is called the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and wants to infect our brains in a way that renders us as helpless and doomed.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Satan uses a mixture of deceptive philosophies, false assertions, and seductive promises that he blends into our natural desire for self-indulgent pleasures and the rebellious tendencies of a fallen nature.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The venom isn’t instantly lethal, but it prevents reactions designed for self-protection & preservation. With those defenses disabled, the enemy is free to suck the life out of his victims until nothing remains but a dead, empty shell.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There’s good news, and we can take heart. Jesus subjected Himself to the full force of the enemy’s venom, and the blood He shed for us on the cross has the power to neutralize our adversary’s sting, render his poison ineffective, and set us free.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “With another Halloween approaching, it’s refreshing to know that in a world full of enemies, venom, and zombie cockroaches, there’s still overcoming power and eternal life in Jesus Christ!” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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