There is an old saying that says you have to be very careful when you come across someone who has nothing to lose. And let’s face it, the saying is actually very true. People who have nothing to lose are far more likely to cross people when offended and they are equally hard to keep in line if it is your job to do so.
Because people who have nothing to lose are numb to the world and it’s authorities. And consequently, they are more likely to defend themselves or attack when they are provoked. This is probably because consequences are generally irrelevant to this type of person.
So far, we have met a lot of people on The Walking Dead with nothing to lose. But I don’t think that we have ever met anyone who personifies this old saying like Negan does. We always knew that he was numb, and we had heard about his wife dying before the apocalypse. But until tonight, we never really understood the actual reasons his character is so vacant.
Once again he tells the story of his wife, but this time he explains how it led to his nihilism.
Negan: A long time ago, before the meat lovers started showing up… I lost somebody that was close to me. Pancreatic cancer. If the disease wasn’t eating her up from the inside, the chemo was kicking the ever-loving sh*t out of her. And yet, I don’t know…Maybe the cancer just put things in perspective. She was uh… She was never more beautiful. Didn’t matter how frail she got. Even when she lost her hair.
Alpha: Be grateful. Death… set her free.
Negan: The thing is, when she was gone, I just – I didn’t feel much of anything anymore. You know? I didn’t feel scared, I didn’t feel happy. I uh… didn’t feel anything. I was just here. And that is my strength. Now, me? I am dead to this world. But you? See, you are pretending. You think that it makes you strong to say that emotions aren’t real, that we are animals.That is bullsh*t. And you know it. And now you claim that you have to kill your own daughter – your own flesh and blood…
Alpha: It is her destiny. (pauses) That disease – took your wife because that was what nature intended. She could not take you with her. But you live every day wishing she could. Lydia was made for this. To be free. With me.
When Alpha told him that death was his wife’s destiny, I was pretty sure that he was going to kill her. He clearly was having a hard time pretending to be on her side when she said that. But it was amazing that she didn’t understand or process what exactly he was saying. Because if she did, she might have seen his trap ahead of time.
What she didn’t see was the fact that he was a man with nothing to lose. And a man with nothing to lose is someone you don’t want to cross. And she died because she didn’t understand that she herself had plenty to lose. And tonight she lost everything.
As a Christian, this should ring true for most of us. The reason the gospel is called the good news is the fact that those who are in Christ now have nothing left to lose. Death has lost it victory and followers of Jesus can live without fear. But our condition does not make us empty and numb, it gives us perspective and makes us live for the hope that awaits us after this life.
Apostle Paul talks about this constantly in his letters to the early church. In 2 Corinthians, he actually goes as far as to describe his own “weakness” as a strength.
7 to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NLT)
Most scholars think that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a physical deformity. It may have actually been the result of one of the terrible beatings he received by those who persecuted Christians. But whatever it was, we know that Paul was saying that we need to understand that those things that make life hard for us, should actually make us stronger. Especially when it comes to the persecution that the early church faced.
Today the church in the United States does not experience persecution like Paul did, but we have the same hope. And more importantly, like Paul, we can count all of the trials in our lives as an opportunity to get stronger.
For most of the world, the idea of weakness actually being a strength, doesn’t make sense. But if this life is all there is, suffering is something that should be avoided at all costs. But this life is not all there is. And the reality for every human being is that the things of this world are going to pass away. Consequently, Christians do not need to hold on to the things of this world in the same way. And understanding this fact, is what gives followers of Jesus, nothing to lose.
SEASON 10, EPISODE 12 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) Do you think that Negan’s story to Alpha was true, or do you think he was just saying whatever he could to lead her into his trap? Why or why not?
2) Do you think that Alpha had any idea that Negan was a danger to her? Why or why not?
3) Negan accuses Alpha of pretending. Do you think Negan is right? Why or why not?
4) Were you surprised when Negan killed her? Why or why not?
5) Does Negan’s wife’s death explain a little more about Negan to you? Why or why not?
6) Does Paul’s argument in 2 Corinthians make sense to you? Do you believe that weakness can actually be a strength? Why or why not?
7) Are there hardships in your life that have made you stronger? Why do you think that is?
8) Does the existence of an afterlife give you perspective on what we should value in this life? If so, what perspective?
9) Do you need to spend more time thinking about the things that you have to lose in your life and what you should think of those things? Why or why not?
Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.