Summary: Are you an alien to this world, or has this become home to you?
Are You An Alien?
Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16
What is an alien? What characterizes an alien?
1. They look Different
2. They Act Different
3. They talk different
4. They are from another world
5. They are going to another world
A lot of ink has been spilled in the debate from historians and sociologists concerning the issue of how Christian “Christian” America was, or even if it ever was. What is not in dispute now is that America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a post-Christian nation at best and an anti-Christian nation at worst. The old days of secular society supporting the Judeo-Christian moral vision are over. Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon open their book Resident Aliens with the following:
Sometime between 1960 and 1980, an old, inadequately conceived world ended…and a new world began.
When and how did we change? Although it may sound trivial, one of us is tempted to date the shift sometime on a Sunday evening in 1963. Then, in Greenville, South Carolina, in defiance of the state’s time-honored blue laws, the Fox Theater opened on Sunday. Seven of us—regular attenders of the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Buncombe Street Church—made a pact to enter the front door of the church, be seen, then quietly slip out the back door and join John Wayne at the Fox.
That evening has come to represent a watershed in the history of Christendom, South Caroline style. On that night, Greenville, South Carolina—the last pocket of resistance to secularity in the Western world—served notice that it would no longer be a prop for the church. There would be no more free passes for the church, no more free rides. The Fox Theater went head to head with the church over who would provide the world view for the young. That night in 1963, the Fox Theater won the opening skirmish.
You see, the authors continue, our parents never worried about whether we would grow up Christian. The church was the only show in town. [And] Church, home and state formed a national consortium that worked together to instill “Christian values.” People grew up Christian simply by being lucky enough to be born in places like Greenville, South Carolina, or Pleasant Grove, Texas.
[But], Hauerwas and Willimon conclude, a few years ago, the two of us awoke and realized that, whether or not our parents were justified in believing this about the world and the Christian faith, nobody believed it today. All sorts of Christians are waking up and realizing that it is no longer “our world”—if it ever was.
The news that we no longer live in a Christian culture may be a shock to some of you, though a quick look at primetime TV is enough to demonstrate the point. But what the realization that we no longer live in a Christian culture means is that we as believers in Jesus Christ must order and live our lives differently. We must live, as Hauerwas and Willimon make clear by the title of their book, as resident aliens. In many ways we have awakened to find ourselves behind cultural enemy lines. Consequently, we must live as strangers and pilgrims in this nation and in this world.
The dictionary definition of a pilgrim is “a person regarded as journeying to a future life.” It’s a journey undertaken with an end view, a purpose, as contrasted with the journeying of a tourist.
In Hebrews we are told that Abraham lived as an alien in a strange land, because he was looking not back from where he came, but where he was going. He was looking for a city. Lets look back and unpack what it was that made the inspired writer to say this about him. And what principles can we also live by so we can please God. We can use Abrahams principles as a spiritual checklist to see if we have a Alien/Pilgrim attitude/spirit.
8It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith--for he was like a foreigner, living in a tent. And so did Isaac and Jacob, to whom God gave the same promise. 10Abraham did this because he was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.
13All these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God. They agreed that they were no more than foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14And obviously people who talk like that are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15If they had meant the country they came from, they would have found a way to go back. 16But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a heavenly city for them.