An Alien in a Human Body
A Christian Perspective of Earthly Existence
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There have been various science-fiction stories and movies about beings from outer space coming to earth. Some of these beings were friendly and some were hostile. Some had bizarre appearances and some looked just like us. Some of these stories were even about people who later proved to be aliens.
I want to describe a true situation that will sound like one of those sci-fi thrillers. There are real people living on earth today who were born and raised here and live normal lives like everyone else but are in reality aliens. On the outside they look like everyone else but there is more to them than meets the eye. They belong to a different world, not this planet. And the exciting part of this true story is that you are one of them. Let me explain.
Jesus made a very clear statement to his disciples as recorded in the Gospel of John: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). You do not belong to this planet or its culture, because God chose you from among its inhabitants to be a citizen of his world. Since you do not belong to this world, its citizens do not love you as one of their own but instead hate you.
Keep in mind that all kinds of people flocked to Jesus and he even became known as a “friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34, NIV). Yet he taught that the world hated him and would hate anyone who loved him. Were people attracted to him because he caroused at their parties or indulged himself in the things they enjoyed? No, people were drawn to him because he was the personification of love and excellence of character, because he met their needs and spoke the truth. Once people experienced him first-hand, however, many of them reacted negatively to him and rejected him, maybe even opposed him. His differences attracted them at first, then they rejected him because of his differences.
It is human nature to be prejudiced against those who are different. Your normal (that is, sinful) human self-centeredness makes you believe you are totally acceptable as you are and that others should be like you, so anyone who is different from you is not as good as you are. In addition, it causes you to dislike anyone who makes you look bad or feel bad about yourself. Do you see why people controlled by their sinful natures would hate anyone who lives by a higher standard and lives an exemplary life?
If you are comfortable around non-Christians, if they relate to you and enjoy being with you, beware. You certainly should not be obnoxious or self-righteous around non-Christians, but on the other hand, if you fit in well with their crowd, you need to check your attitudes and lifestyle. If you submit to God and humbly live to please him, “the world hates you.”
Sin causes people to hate those who are different. Self-centeredness says, “I am good and you should be like me.” This is the basis of prejudice. If you see a “character fault” in someone, you probably feel the solution is for them to be like you. That is prejudice. Prejudice is a carnal perspective and can’t be legislated out of existence, as decades of civil rights legislation have shown. We must oppose expressions of prejudice, but we also must recognize that prejudice itself will continue until people experience a spiritual conversion. Only God can change a person’s nature.
As a Christian, you should not even be content to live in your physical body, because your satisfaction and fulfillment are not related to your physical existence. In fact, you are actually battling your physical body’s cravings and if you stop resisting them, they will win. In this sense, you are even an alien to your own physical body; it tries to trap you and hold you prisoner.
In John’s Gospel, we read one of Jesus’ prayers to the Father that reinforces the idea of alienation from the world. “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it” (John 17:14-16).
Many people choose to believe that Jesus was just another man; a very good man, but only human. Those who choose to believe that he is the Son of God know that Jesus came to earth from somewhere else. He did not originate on this planet and therefore is not of the world. The phrase, “of the world,” refers to someone who belongs to the world, relates to it, identifies with it and longs for the experiences it provides. You originally were of the world, but once you accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, he changed your citizenship and you are no longer a citizen of this world. You still reside in the world, but you no longer are a citizen of the world. You do not belong here; you are a foreigner, an alien to this culture.
What is the culture of this world? It is a lifestyle based on sinful human nature, which is intensely self-centered. The emphasis of human existence is on what you want, what you think, how you can be in control. The ultimate satisfaction in the human culture is to take matters into your own hands and be accountable to no one other than yourself.
People approve of those who behave like them and they encourage others to practice what they do. The Book of Romans says, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32). Peer pressure is an important tool and people sometimes use it very subtly.
I was an engineer on an installation and test team for a mainframe computer system several years ago. After a new computer was installed, we would spend months checking it out, making the necessary revisions and repairs, before we released it for customer use. Because of the critical nature of the computer, our people would stay on-site to assist the customer and monitor the computer during its initial “burn-in” period. As a result, we would spend days in our offices with virtually nothing to do except wait for a system problem.
Imagine the scene: a crew of about 25 men, many of us fresh out of college, sitting around in temporary offices completely isolated from any supervisors and staff. As you might suspect, practical jokes became a favorite pastime and they often took the form of major pranks or booby traps.
I have forgotten most of the pranks but I still remember people’s reactions. Everyone would be quiet and look innocent until the victim sprung the trap, then everyone fixed their attention on him to see how he would respond. The victim usually would simply act irritated until his anger built up and he began to swear. As soon as the obscenities began pouring out of his mouth, the group would erupt into laughter and applause. If the victim just became angry without cursing, the gag didn’t have the same impact. I began to realize that the goal was to provoke obscene language and when the victim obliged by offering his choicest vulgarities, the group approved and rewarded him.
Peer pressure can be very subtle at times, but its purpose is always to encourage others to conform. You have seen people do this and maybe have even done it yourself. Have you ever encouraged someone to eat more after they have had enough, for example, then felt pleased because they overate? In essence, you exerted pressure on them to conform to your desire, then felt pleased when you got them to do what you wanted. People encourage others to wear the same clothes they do, calling it stylish or fashionable. They pressure them to use the same language, to smoke, drink, lie, steal and so on. They applaud people who conform, who do what they do or wish they could do.
It is very common for people not only to encourage others to behave certain ways, but even abuse those who will not. Peter describes such an attitude: “They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you” (1 Pet. 4:4). People will pressure others who do not adhere to their standards. If you choose not to indulge in the same behavior someone else does, you can expect them to ridicule you or even become abusive.
You are a natural citizen of heaven. Your roots are there and that is your culture. You are living temporarily in this world and you will eventually leave and return home. You are strange by the world’s standards and, because your culture is different, the world’s citizens are prejudiced against you; you will experience their hatred, harassment and rejection. You are an ambassador here, representing God and bringing his message to the world.
You must retain your heavenly citizenship by abstaining from sinful desires (desires, not just acts). If you adopt this world’s culture, you make yourself vulnerable to God’s judgment. You need to change the way you think about this world. Keep reminding yourself that you are an alien living temporarily in a human body. You do not belong here and living like a citizen of this world can be fatal. Instead, you should eagerly anticipate the Lord’s return, when he will take you to your homeland: heaven.