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Dane Skelton is the Pastor of Faith Community Church and the author of Jungle Flight: Spiritual Adventures at the Ends of the Earth, a book of true stories from the ministry of JAARS (formerly Jungle Aviation and Radio Service). His second book, Papua Pilot: Flying the Bible to the Last Lost Peoples, co-authored with the late Paul Westlund, is now available on Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.
The CIA just declassified AREA 51, the famed mystery site in the Nevada desert supposedly associated with aliens and spaceships. Never mind that the site remained secret so long because it was associated with the development and deployment of the U2 spy plane. Conspiracy theorists will no doubt have a ball with this. I can see the headlines in some of the more comical tabloids now: GOVERNMENT REVEALS ALIENS ON EARTH! AREA 51 CONFIRMS ALIEN ABDUCTIONS! What a hoot.
The fact is that according to scripture there are two kinds of aliens living on earth right now. The first are aliens to the promises of God. The second are aliens to this current world. It’s a helpful demarcation because it enables us to sort out our priorities and settle some of our difficulties as we try to live for Christ in this age.
Aliens to the commonwealth of heaven
The Apostle Paul explained to the Ephesians that, before they believed in Jesus they were to, 12 “remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Emphasis mine).
That means that no matter how good a person may be, no matter how moral, ethical, kind-hearted or generous his behavior, until he is in Christ he is a “stranger to the covenants and alienated from the commonwealth of Israel.” He is, in other words, without hope and without God in the world. This, by the way, is why we work hard to share Christ with others. We want everyone to enjoy the promises and benefit from the commonwealth.
Aliens on this earth
To those who have believed and put their total trust in Christ, Paul says, “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
That’s a beautiful picture isn’t it? But it has consequences for us on this earth. It means that where once we belonged and were part of this world’s system and participants in its values, now we are aliens, strangers to our neighbors. (See 1 Peter 1:1; 1:17; 2:11; Heb. 11:13). We’ve been “abducted,” taken out of the realm of darkness, and transferred to the Kingdom of light. We’ve had heart transplants. The eyes of our hearts have been opened (Eph. 1:18). Our minds have been changed by this alien encounter (Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 2:16). I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
What of it? Well, if we had really been abducted by aliens it would change some things wouldn’t it? Living as strangers here does change things for us.
First, we do not live for the here and now. Our focus isn’t on the next car, motorcycle, boat or airplane; not the next shopping trip, house, or vacation; not the next promotion, pay raise, or political victory.
Second, we live for the city whose foundation is God. We rearrange our priorities to pursue his purposes. We live for his glory.
Finally, we do not expect the world to understand or appreciate our priorities but simply live our lives as strangers here in reverent expectation of the day Christ returns and we are alien no more.