The movie industry as well as a slew of book authors provide us with a seemingly endless supply of entertainment involving aliens. Sometimes aliens invade Earth to annihilate humans and take over the planet (War of the Worlds). Sometimes they come to take back what another alien stole and that they need to survive (Men in Black). Sometimes they just get lost here (E.T.). While here, aliens sometimes take over human bodies and sometimes they just eat them. Sometimes, humans and aliens make friends with each other. There are also stories about humans flying to alien planets in which case the human then becomes the alien (Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis). There are even many individuals who truly believe that aliens exist, have already come to our planet, and that the government is conspiring to cover up that fact (think Area 51). We are fascinated by the idea that other races and worlds may exist outside of our own.
As Christians, we know that we are in fact aliens in this world. (1 Peter 2:11) We are strangers in a place that is not our permanent home. Knowing this should change the way we live our lives. The fact that we are strangers and aliens should cause us to stand out, much like the aliens in the movies we watch and books we read. But standing out isn’t exactly about appearance; instead, standing out as Christians refers to the way we live our lives. Let’s examine 5 ways Christians stand out as aliens and strangers in this temporal world stand out.
- Gifts and abilities. Every individual has unique qualities that set them apart from others. I am naturally organized. My youngest son is pretty athletic. My oldest son has an amazing ability to memorize. My husband has an unusual amount of constant energy. Some people have a unique fashion style, some have amazing musical talent, and still others have natural leadership or teaching ability. Yet these qualities in and of themselves are not what should bring notice to a Christian. The way in which a person uses the gifts and abilities given them should be the focus. Does God receive credit for the ability? Does the church benefit from the ability? Does the individual operate in the ability or gift for personal fame or to glorify God? While only the individual knows for sure, actions often provide an accurate gauge.
- Perspective. Christians stand out when we realize that this world is not our home. We become comfortable with being uncomfortable in an ever-changing and increasingly hostile world. With one eye always on eternity, the Christian perspective exists as one that focuses on the eternal rather than the temporal. A Christian’s focus on eternity provides motivation and energy for living a holy (set apart) life.
- Motives. The question of motive gets at the reason a person does anything. When the motive is for personal glory, the reward may be immediate and temporarily satisfy to the flesh. But when the motive exists for the glory of God, then the reward endures for eternity. Asking “Why?” in every facet of life helps keep the Christian focused on the surpassing reward of pleasing the Father in Heaven. Being driven by this “Why?” will set a Christian apart in a world where selfish motives abound.
- Choices. Empty promises fill this temporal world (think politics, for example). Being sure exists only as an illusion in a culture of relative truth. What’s wrong for you is right for me, and both are okay. Right? Wrong! As Christians focus on the unchanging truth of God’s Word, they become set apart because they refuse to focus on the ever-changing truth of a temporal world. They focus on the Truth that satisfies the spirit instead of that which satisfies the flesh (and does so only temporarily).
- Balance. A balanced Christian lives in this world but focuses on eternity. A balanced Christians takes the gifts and abilities God gives, makes sure their motives and perspectives line up with His Word, and then chooses to focus on the Truth He places in their hearts.
This temporal world is one of roller coaster realities where there are highs that quickly plummet into valleys. But a Christian living as an alien uses those highs to rejoice in God’s goodness and the lows to depend on His mercy and grace. God wants His children to stand out, and He provides the tools for doing so. When we consider our gifts and abilities, our choices, our perspective and our motives and use those to build a balanced approach to living as aliens and strangers, we see that God has truly given us a myriad of ways to not only be set apart but to remain that way.
DISCUSSION: Do you live your life in a way that causes you to stand out as an alien in this temporal world?