Anyone who frequented theatres in the 1970's can tell you all about a blockbuster called "Close Encounters of a Third Kind". The film featured actor Richard Dreyfuss in the role that put his career on the map and presented the story of a man who began to receive supernatural telekinetic messages from another world declaring that aliens were on the way. Dreyfuss and other "special" people who had also received the messages searched and waited for days until they were all drawn to Devil's Tower, Wyoming, where the friendly visitors made their appearance and brought along with them a host of passengers thought to have been long lost including Bermuda Triangle victims like the legendary post WWII Navy Flight 19. Highlighting the Aliens' visit was their communication with the world at large through music and hand signals. As I think back on the movie with 21st Century eyes, the plot and presentation seem a bit hokey and sugary sweet for contemporary tastes, but that premise - to search for aliens. Hmmmm.
This outlandish idea of searching for Aliens came to mind as I read a meditation this morning from the Our Daily Bread serial devotional. In today's reading,Christian writer Julie Acerman discusses the issue of Christian Credibility and she challenges believers to pursue the standard of behavior outlined in 1 Peter 2:11ff by Peter the Apostle:
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
The challenge is a serious one. Peter calls Christians to display love and forgiveness even while in life circumstances as dehumanizing as forced servitude! He instructs the faithful that a dynamic Christian life must be characterized by goodness, perseverance and forgiveness regardless of the response of those inflicting the harm! He asserts that persistently doing good regardless of one's situation has the power to silence evildoers and bring glory to the Name of the Lord! That kind of response to adversity and affliction is simply supernatural! It is certainly not human. The lifestyle that Peter demands is truly alien to common human experience, yet precisely the kind of lifestyle that humanity desperately needs to experience.
As I look at the task I face as an Outreach Pastor, called to mobilize people to touch lives through the hands-on application of the Gospel, I've come to the conclusion that I'm searching for aliens! Not the kind with silver uniforms and advanced space vehicles who repeat canned phrases like, "Take me to your leader," but folks who have a supernatural connection with and are inextricably devoted to Jesus. I'm looking for people in this world who are "peculiar" (1 Peter 2:9 KJV)- alien sojourners who are not seeking to pattern themselves after the latest fads or popular conventions, but are pursuing a higher calling of otherworldly proportions. I'm searching for people who display a transformed way of living, not through having their bodies snatched or through a Vulcan "mind meld" but through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who produces the fruit of a transformed life: "...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23).
Now that I think about it, I shouldn't be just searching for aliens, I should be committed to being one myself, with my priorities not limited by the baggage of this world, but with a vision that reflects a laser-like focus on God's agenda. I invite you to become an alien too, with your heart tuned in to Heaven, following The Leader's Instructions so that other inhabitants of this planet can see you carrying out His supernatural agenda and surrender themselves to it too! Until next time...