I am an alien! I don’t have the long, pointy ears and green skin of Yoda of Star Wars nor do I have the long neck and bugged out eyes of the famous movie alien E.T., but I am an alien.
The Bible says that as Christians we are to be aliens and strangers on this earth. We are simply pilgrims passing through. The Message translation puts this well, “Friends this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul” (I Peter 2:11).
We tend to get cozy with our world, especially this good section of it here in northeastern Iowa. Focusing so much on this temporary life, we forget that our time on earth is short lived. We are made for eternity. Author Dallas Willard used to say, “Eternity is in session”. We forget that eternity is in session right now, not just in the future when we die and leave this earth. As aliens, we must live with eternity in mind, even while we walk these pilgrim years upon this earth.
I lived a short time as an alien in another country. My wife and I lived in Canada while I was in seminary. For as much as our two nations are alike, nearly every day we ran into something that wasn’t quite like it was here in “The States”. We began to learn a bit about what it was like to be aliens, living in a place that was not our homeland.
As Christians we can learn to live as aliens, strangers to the world. Here are three suggestions to help get started in the “alien lifestyle”:
- Aliens talk differently
Even amongst English speaking people, there is a difference in how we talk. “Y’alls” are favored by our friends down in the southern US, adding “eh?” to the end of sentences is favored by our friends in Canada. Some English speaking mistakes can be down-right embarrassing. I once told a British acquaintance I liked his pants. He looked at me funny. I tugged at my pant leg, “Your pants”, I said. He said, “Oh my trousers. My pants are what I have on underneath.” We talk differently even in English.
However, as Christians our speech should be different from the world around us. Consider, does the word “God” can come out of your mouth to easily in a variety of forms not attached to prayer? Is your speech peppered with encouragement and challenge toward living for God or is it discouraging to those around you? Does gossip flow from your lips freely or do you work to muzzle yourself in sharing others’ personal details and judgments about them? Christians, living as aliens, should talk differently.
- Aliens act differently
Aliens in movies act differently compared to our society. Likewise Christian behavior should be odd compared to the society at large. I Peter 2:12 says, “Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives” (The Message).
The “natives” are those of us that seek only the earth’s pleasures and are strangers to God. So, Christians are to act so differently, with good actions, deeds of generosity and kindness, that it gets others thinking and wondering about our sanity! “How and why do they do that? Oh, yeah, they are Christians”.
- Aliens worship differently
Humanity through the ages has desired to worship something. We see it in a variety of rituals throughout time and history. The human heart desires to worship, but it doesn’t always know who it is to worship or how to worship.
We find the apostle Paul in Athens walking down the street and finding an altar to an unknown god. Paul declares, “Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23b NIV). Paul would then declare the true God worthy of worship.
The culture around us may worship sports, movies, sex, money, comfort or a host of other things. However, the alien knows that he must worship God alone. The culture and its’ natives will rant and rail against the alien and his God. However, the alien knows that this life is short-lived, so he keeps speaking, acting and worshipping differently.
Remember Christian alien, “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14, NLT). Keep eternity in view and live your life as a stranger and alien to the glory of God!