I want to start with a little game this morning. I’m going to show you the pictures of three people, and I want you to try to figure out what they have in common. Why would they be grouped together? Let’s start with an easy one…
Answer: They are all cowboys. (Dallas Cowboys , John Wayne, Woody from Toy Story)
Let’s try another one:
Answer: They are all Prime Ministers of Canada (Kim Campbell, Wilfred Laurier, Paul Martin)
And one more…
This one might be a bit tricky for those who don’t know my buddy Dustin, but the answer is, they are all aliens!
And I’m sure some of you know exactly where I’m going with this, but for others of you – this might seem like an odd way to start to a sermon. So maybe I’d better explain a little bit before we get too far.
Let’s start off by defining exactly what we mean when we say “alien”. What is the definition of an alien?
According to the Oxford dictionary, an “alien” is: “a foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where he or she is living”
In others words – an alien is someone who is living away from their home.
So superman is an alien because his home (if you remember the story) is the planet Krypton. His home planet was destroyed when He was a baby, so his parents put him on a rocketship to earth. He landed in Kansas and he grew up and he lived his life as an alien on planet earth.
Marvin the Martian is an alien because the planet Mars is his home planet. So whenever Marvin comes to earth or goes to the mysterious planet X, Marvin the Martian is an alien – he’s not at home.
And then we come to my buddy Dustin. Now some of you might argue that Dustin is not an alien. After all, he was born on planet earth. He lives on planet earth. What makes Dustin an alien?
Well, the answer is that Dustin is a follower of Jesus Christ – He’s a Christian. And as such, the Bible tells us that this world is not his home.
Hebrews 13:14 says it quite clearly…
“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14
So if this world is not Dustin’s home – that makes him an alien! And that goes for any of us who are Christians. This world is not our home. But if this world is not our home, where is our “home”? What home (as it says in Hebrews) are we looking forward to? Well, of course, the answer is “heaven” as we read in Philippians 3:20.
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.” Philippians 3:20
As Christians, heaven is our real home. We are only here on earth for just a short, short time. The few years we spend on earth are nothing compared to the eternity that we will spend in Heaven.
So let’s face the facts people: We are aliens. We are a people not living at home.
And in some ways, that’s a very good thing. I’m glad that this world is not my home, because, quite frankly, this world can be pretty junky sometimes. Just watch the news. This world is full of pain & suffering, loneliness, heart-ache, tears, disease, death. Doesn’t sound like home sweet home, does it?
But what about heaven? What kind of home do we have to look forward to? Revelation 21:3-4 gives us just a tiny glimpse of what our heavenly home will be like.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Now THAT sounds like home sweet home. That’s the home we’re looking forward to. But here’s the kicker – we’re not there yet. We are still aliens living on a sin-filled planet earth.
For some reason, God doesn’t beam us up to heaven the minute we become Christians. He keeps us here, for a time, as aliens living on planet earth, until He decides its time to bring us home.
And that brings me to what I really want to talk about this morning. For the next few weeks we’re going to to talk about…
Living As Aliens
If this world is not our home, but yet, God has placed us here – how does He want us to live as aliens in this world? Have you ever thought about that? Why does God keep us here when our real home is somewhere else? What does He expect us to do? How does He expect us to live our lives as aliens in this world?
If you’ve watched a lot of alien movies, you’ll know that most aliens choose to live in one of two ways while they’re on planet earth.
You see, there are some aliens who try to blend in. They try to look and act like humans. They don’t want anybody to know that they are aliens, so they disguise themselves and do their best not to stick out.
Sometimes as Christians, we try to do that. We don’t want to be the religious weirdos, and so we try to just blend in with everybody else – try not to be too obvious.
Then there are other aliens on the opposite end of the spectrum – and they don’t care who knows what they are. They fly around in their spaceships, causing mayhem in the streets. They’re not afraid to show the world that they have 27 eyes, a green face, and drip slime where ever they walk.
Some Christians are like that too. They’re just right out there – in your face. They don’t care what people think of them. They’ll live their Christianity as publicly as they can.
But I think for most Christians, typically we try to find a middle ground. We’re more like superman. Half the time he goes around as Clark Kent – just another average Joe – but the other half of the time, he’s superman – clearly NOT your average Joe! In fact, I think the story of superman is a great picture of how most Christians experience life.
Think about it: All his life superman wrestles with this issue of how he lives his life on planet earth. On one hand he just wants to fit in – to be like everybody else – to have a normal life. He wants to marry Lois Lane, have a nice family and live happily ever after. That’s why He goes around as Clark Kent – mild mannered reporter most of the time – just an average normal guy. But on the other hand, He knows he’s different. He has super abilities. He has the power within him to make a huge difference in the world. So there’s this inner conflict.
If he uses his super abilities to make a difference in the world, he won’t have that normal life that he wants. But if he doesn’t use his super abilities, he’ll have his normal life – but he won’t make a difference.
And isn’t that the same struggle we have? On one hand, we just want to fit in. To be like everybody else. We don’t want to be the odd duck out. And yet we know we’re different. As Christians, we have the all-powerful Creator of the universe living within us – and He’s ready to empower us to change the world.
And if we live our lives, directed by the incredible power of God, we can be sure that we’ll make a difference in this world – But we’re going to stick out big time – we’re not going to be able to live a normal life.
So that brings us back to our original question: How then do we live as aliens on this planet?
Do we live in the power of God – changing the world, but sticking out like a sore thumb? Or do we simply live normal, average lives – fitting in, but never making a difference?
Ultimately that’s a question that everyone of us will have to answer for ourselves, and hopefully over the course of the next few weeks as we study this topic, I hope that each of you will be able to come to a point of firm decision of how you will live your life as an alien in this world.
Thankfully, we’re not the first ones to have to work through all this. There have been thousands – even millions of Christians who have gone before us and have wrestled through these very issues.
In fact the books of 1 & 2 Peter (in the New Testament) were written by Peter for Christians who were working through this stuff. So that’s where we’re going to be focusing most of our attention over these next few weeks. What does Peter have to say about how we should live our lives as aliens in this world?
So if you have your Bibles, you can turn with me to 1 Peter chapter one right now. I want to look at just a few verses – 1 Peter 1:13-16.
Ideally, I’d read through all of chapter one, but for the sake of our time this morning, I’m going to leave that to you. Inserted into your bulletin, you’ll find a little bookmark that you can take home with you. It’s got a few ideas of some easy to do, practical things that you can do this week in light of what we are talking about this morning. And reading through 1 Peter chapter one is one of those ideas, so I’d encourage you to do that sometime this week. But for now, let’s start at verse 13.
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16
So these are the first of Peter’s instructions for us on how we are to live as aliens in this world. And He covers a lot of material in just four verses. He tells us:
Think clearly, exercise self control, look forward to our salvation, live obediently, and be holy in everything we do. Now most of that is pretty straight forward – doesn’t need a lot of explanation. But I’d like to spend some time focusing on that last part.
“Be holy in everything you do.”
What does it mean for us to be holy?
A few months back we talked some of the attributes of God and one of His attributes that we looked at was that God is holy.
And we discovered that God’s holiness wasn’t just His purity – or just his moral perfection – although that certainly is a part of it. The word “holy” primarily means “set apart” – a more literal translation of it might be to ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate’. So to say that God is holy – basically means that God is set apart – He is separate from His creation.
That’s not to say that He is distant from it – but He is different from it. That’s an important distinction. God is not distant from Creation, but He is certainly different from Creation.
Nothing on earth can compare with God. His power is a holy power – it’s completely different from any other power we know – above and beyond anything we could imagine. His love is a holy love – above and beyond anything we could imagine. His wisdom is a holy wisdom – above and beyond anything we could imagine. Everything about God is above and beyond us. Although we are made in the image of God, He is very different from us. That’s what it means that God is holy – everything about Him is above and beyond anything we could imagine.
So what does it mean for us to be holy? Good question. But it think it’s exactly what we’ve been talking about.
As Christians, as aliens in this world – God does NOT expect us to be distant from the world. He’s put us IN this world for a reason. If He wanted us to be distant from the world, He’d take us home right now. But He hasn’t done that. Instead, God expects us to be different from the world. That’s what it means to be holy.
It means that as Christians, everything about us, every area of our lives – our character, our lifestyle, our marriages, our finances, our priorities – everything about us – everything should be above and beyond the things of this world. We are to be different.
Remember, this world is not our home and so it doesn’t set the standard for how we live our lives. God does. He is the standard.
So when we determine how we’re going to treat our wives – we don’t look to see what the world expects – we look to see what God expects.
When we determine what to do with our money – we don’t look to see what the world expects – we look to see what God expects.
When we determine what we allow in our homes in the way of tv, or movies, or internet – we don’t look to see what world expects – we look to see what God expects.
This principle carries into every area of our lives. If we are going to be holy as God is holy, then we can’t look to the world for the standard of how we live our lives – We have to look to God for the standard.
For some of us, that might mean some pretty radical changes in the way we live our lives. I know it’s very easy to get caught up in the things of this world. Maybe we don’t do it on purpose, but its easy to find ourselves living the same way as the rest of the world. We just kinda do what everybody else does.
But God didn’t leave us on planet earth to do what everybody else does. He left us here to be different – so that we could make a difference.
The problem is, when we do that – we’re going to stick out big time. Because God’s standards are very different from the world’s standards. God’s priorities are very different from the world priorities. It’s going to be obvious to the people around us that we are aliens – that this world is not our home. We’re going to be the odd duck out. But that’s ok.
Because on the flip side of that, when we start living our lives differently – when we start determining how we live our lives by what God says – rather than what the world says – I guarantee you, your life will make a difference.
Don’t you think that, when your kids, instead of seeing you on the couch watching tv, see you instead on your knees in prayer – that will make a difference in their life? Absolutely.
Or when your co-workers, instead of hearing you cuss and swear like everybody else, instead they always hear you say words of encouragement – do you think that will make a difference in their life – I bet it will.
When you live in the awesome power of God, you’re gonna stick out! But you will make a difference!
So I challenge you this week: How then, as aliens in this world, will you live?
Will you live in the power of God – sticking out like a sore thumb, but changing the people around you? Or will you simply live a normal, average life – fitting in, but never making a difference?
Earlier this week I went to the website “persecution.com” and I was reading about a Chinese pastor named Zhang Rongliang or something like that – but most people call him Uncle Z.
But this is a guy who knows he is an alien. He knows this world is not his home and so He is happy to stick out like a sore thumb – so that more and more people can come to know and love Jesus Christ. Let me just read for you a few sentences from one of the articles on that website.
Zhang, a founder of one of China’s largest churches with over ten million members, has endured constant persecution for his ministry in China. Zhang has been imprisoned five times and has spent about a fourth of his life in prison.
In early December 2004 Zhang disappeared, and eventually, the Chinese government admitted they had him in custody. Zhang was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison. People and organizations around the world pressured Chinese Communist leaders to release Zhang. Thousands of individuals wrote letters and prayed while multiple organizations worked to secure his release.
But now look what Zhang says…
“I am happy that you and others tried to arrange for my release, but in one way, I am happy that you failed,” Zhang says. “You almost made a big mistake. If you had been successful, there would be no church in that prison today.”
Chinese Christians are not allowed to visit prisons or start prison outreach ministries, so Zhang ministered to everyone he could while in prison — prisoners, prison guards and officials he could never have met outside prison. Over 5,000 men lived in prison with Zhang, and many of them were able to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.
That’s pretty fantastic, isn’t it? Because Zhang understood that this world was not his home, he was willing to give up the temporary comforts of “fitting in” – so that He could make a difference. What a powerful testimony for us! When we are willing to live differently for God, no matter what the cost, God will use us to make a serious difference in the world.
How then, as aliens in this world, will you live?