Every so often there’s a surge of interest in UFO’s and the possibility of alien life. There is a hardcore group of true believers who are sure that aliens exist, and there are others who find the idea worth considering, or at least entertaining. Even Hillary Clinton has gotten into the act, with comments promising that as president she is going to get to the bottom of the UFO stories.
What do you think? Are there aliens? Run through this quick test to find out your interest:
What was the TV series set in outer space mainly on the Starship Enterprise? (Star Trek)
What town in New Mexico do some believe aliens have already landed? (Roswell)
What is the secret storage area where some think proof of aliens is held? (Area 51)
What did E.T. need to do in the movie? (Phone home.)
What was Spock’s catchphrase, accompanied with spread fingers? (Live long and prosper.)
I thought so. From your answers it looks like the First Baptist family has an interest in aliens.
Actually, every one of us knows what it’s like to be an alien. An outsider. We have each had times when we were the only woman in a room of men, the only conservative Republican in a group of liberal Democrats, the only white person in a crowd of black people. Sometimes being an alien is only a passing thing, sometimes it’s something to endure. I recently received an invitation to my high school reunion (“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”) and it brought back memories of feeling rejected and alone during my adolescence. We’ve all been there, one way or another. A stranger in a strange land.
Sometimes these experiences are easy to get through. Invited to join a new group of acquaintances to watch a Red Sox game at Fenway? Don’t wear your Detroit Tigers gear, and keep your mouth shut. Nobody will know you’re really an alien. In other cases, the experiences of being an outsider can scar for life. Ever wonder what it does to someone born and raised in America who finds themselves shunned and feared because they share the same racial heritage as the bad guys in the middle east? Ever wonder what it’s like to be a passionate evangelical Christian who also happens to be gay? There are a lot of aliens around us all the time.
Jesus himself was an alien. I’m not talking about the pointy-eared, red-eyed kind of alien of monster movies, but the kind of person who would not accept the corrupt standards of a world that was broken by sin. Jesus loved his neighbor. He healed the broken-hearted. He said the first will be last, and the last will finally be at the head of the line. Jesus lived as an outsider in the very world he himself had created.
As Christians, we too, are aliens. We are outsiders just like the One we follow. The Apostle Paul put it directly: “Your citizenship is in heaven.” As citizens of the kingdom of God we are to represent the personal standards of our Lord and Savior. Violence, hatred, and prejudice are simply not welcomed in our way of life, because they are are being replaced with peace, love and acceptance. We are on mission, to bring the alien ways of Jesus to a world desperately in need of a new way of living.
Live long and prosper.
I remember seeing pictures of my father in his WWII officer?s uniform. I knew he had been a chaplain in the war and was concerned about soldiers dying without knowing Christ.
I remember hearing my mother cry in the night and knowing that I could not comfort her. But she taught me about the One who sent us the Comforter, the One who could and did comfort her.
I remember friends of mine who were widows before I was even married grieving the loss of their young husbands in VietNam. I remember wondering why Jon?s parents always wanted to go to the cemetery on Memorial Day. Now, all these years later, I know and understand why.
I remember thinking that war and death are terrible things. I still believe that. God did not intend for his own to suffer so. He created a perfect world into which sin and death came as his created ones disobeyed him and rebelled against his authority.
I remembered wondering why Christ had to come and die for our sins. I learned from scripture that his death saved us from eternal death. I know that even now war rages across our world.
I remember the song by Peter, Paul, and Mary that asked, “When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?”
Perhaps, we won?t learn until Christ comes again and restores peace and harmony to our world.
Until then, we will remember...
Contemporary Christian music is not one of my favorite forms of worship. Oh, there are exceptions. My idea of real contemporary Christian music is those songs I lustily sang way back when as a younger adult I renewed my faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, my favorite contemporary music is stuck in a time-warp decades ago. The stuff now just doesn’t move me. Too much noise, too much ego, too much froth. Not enough of the biblical God.
This made it interesting when I found I had an unexpected ally in my distaste for such baptized drivel. Bono, the rock band U2’s lead singer, has recently made a video with Eugene Peterson, the biblical translator whose work, The Message, is a version of the Bible I read. In the video Bono has unexpected suggestions for Christian musicians trying to make music. “I find in Christian art a lot of dishonesty, and I think it’s a shame.”
Bono speaks from the perspective of one who’s ministry calling is outside the church, but in Christ. “I would love if this conversation would inspire people who are writing these beautiful… gospel songs, write a song about their bad marriage. Write a song about how they’re pissed off at the government. Because that’s what God wants from you,” Bono said. “Why I am suspicious of Christians is because of this lack of realism.”
Dishonesty? Lack of realism? Do these things exist in Christian music? Do they exist in the broader Christian church? Do they exist in me? Yes, they are there, and sometimes they become a huge stumbling bock not only to other people, but impediments to our own spiritual growth. The attitude: “I used to be a terrible sinner, but I’ve come to Jesus, and now everything is ok,” not only wears thin, but it keeps us from allowing those things which are definitely not “ok” to be brought before the cleansing ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The Psalms hold a fascinating appeal for Bono in their brutal honesty. He says the psalms may be great poetry but it’s the authentic reflection of the human spirit wrestling with God that rivets him. Often the psalmist opens his soul before God as he works out his salvation with fear and trembling. “…for the word to live, for it to leap from the page and into our lives, the only time is now, the only place is here.”
Bono, who suffers from an eye problem, almost never in seen without sunglasses on. He admits that it’s not only a help for his vision, but also a pride thing. The sunglasses serve as a guard between him and the world. In his usual fresh, direct way of looking at life, he says: “Coolness might help in your negotiation with people through the world, maybe, but it is impossible to meet God with sunglasses on.”
Can we hear the words of a prophet pleading with us? Can we in the church, we who are open to the transforming love of God take our sunglasses off? May we aim for honesty in our lives, in our Christian witness, in our relationship with others and with God? Let this be our goal not only in the music that leads us into worship, be it “contemporary Christian” or classic Bach, but in our relationships with others, with ourselves, and with God. Such a way of living won’t make us a rock star, but it will bring us closer to the Rock.
As someone who grew up without a father, I was unacquainted with the whole concept of roughhousing until I was married and observed my husband playing with our children. Usually a quiet and gentle man, I was shocked to see him holding small children up by their feet and teasing them until they were breathless. He would scoop up a child and tell them to say, “Squeeze me tighter, Daddy.” Then he would squeeze them until they yelled in delight.
I had forgotten all that until recently when I was at my daughter?s home when her husband came home from work. Two small boys ran happily to greet him, and he responded by throwing them into the air and swinging them around the room. They responded with great joy and loud squeals.
After describing this happy event to another daughter, she suggested that this monkey business could be called the Theology of Roughhousing. Children learn to interact with people much larger and stronger than themselves. They are at the mercy of these bigger people. But when they learn to trust those who have power over them, they can live in harmony with that reality.
We can apply that same principal to ourselves as we relate to God. He is strong and powerful, yet he bends down to hold us. We learn to trust him to be with us when we have no control of dangers that swirl around us. We may be thrown this way and that, but we are safe in God?s hands. He is truly our heavenly father.
Romans 8; 38, 39 reminds us of just how strong our heavenly father?s love is for us:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)