In June of 1982 an amazing phenomenon swept across America. In the months prior to it release, one phrase was pounded into the minds of young and old alike: He is afraid. He is alone. He is 3 million light years from home. E.T. landed on theatre screens on June 11 and this Steven Spielberg film about a stranded alien took home 4 Academy awards and 37 other awards, including: the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture. Unbeknownst to many, this film also carried a prophetic message to the church that has largely been overlooked. Just what was it that God was saying to his church through this captivating story?
I believe that E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial speaks to us about a longing that is hidden deep within the heart of every man, but in the case of a believer it has been activated and resonates much more prominently. You may be asking yourself at this point, “What kind of longing did E.T. have that relates to me? It was just a dumb science fiction movie.” To answer that question, you may need to look in an unexpected place. In books and movies a person typically relates to the character who is most like them. Who is that in E.T.? Some of you are saying Elliott, who is a natural choice as a human child who fights the system to do what is right and just. But let me suggest to you that you are much more like E.T. himself.
In popular culture this term refers to aliens, like E.T., and is generally associated with U.F.O. sightings. However, in the scientific context, it refers to hypothetical life that exists outside of Earth. Extra is from Latin, meaning “outside” and terrestris is Latin for “earthly”, so an extraterrestrial is something that is from outside or beyond the earth. In other words, this term describes YOU precisely. Maybe it was both E.T. and 1 Peter 2:11 that inspired the 1983 song by Petra, Not of this World.
We are pilgrims in a strange land
We are so far from our homeland
With each passing day it seems so clear
This world will never want us here
We’re not welcome in this world of wrong
We are foreigners who don’t belong
We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world
We are envoys, we must tarry
With this message we must carry
There’s so much to do before we leave
With so many more who may believe
Our mission here can never fail
And the gates of hell will not prevail
1 Peter 2:11-12 (NIV)
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:11 (The Message)
11-12Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.
Just like E.T. you and I don’t belong to this earth. We have been left here for a season to impact those that we come in contact with, but we will never be any more welcomed and accepted by the mainstream of society than E.T. was. As extraterrestrials one of our functions is to pour our heart out into the lives of those whom we have relationship with and to allow them to feel what we feel toward God.
Yet, more important than that, the message of E.T. can be summed up by examining it most unforgettable line. Do you remember what overriding desire drove E.T. in everything that he did? If you know nothing else about the movie, you probably remember the phrase, “E.T. Phone Home”. I want you to understand that this should be a driving force in your life as an extraterrestrial as well – the desire to phone home. There must be a longing for heavenly relationship that consumes you, a hunger for communication with your Heavenly Father that drives all that you do. Without phoning home, without that call for help raised from this alien environment, ET would have died.
E.T. was brilliant. He learned how to communicate with an alien culture. He even loved one of those he built relationship with so much that he was willing to lay down his life for him (John 15:13). With resources taken from the environment he was in and limited understanding of the world from which he came (1 Corinthians 3:18 – now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face), he learned to broadcast a cry for help. But, in the end, E.T. was simply a child who longed for his father and as in any good movie, his father was waiting for that call and came running to the rescue.
Let me remind you that you are a child, you have been thrust into an environment that is not your own. With the resources you have here you must take the limited understanding that you have of eternity and cry out. We want to see power and glory, but we don’t want to do what it takes to get it. We want the hero to ride in on the white horse and save us, yet we don’t want to get to know the hero.
Your heavenly father longs to show you wonderful things, to do miracles and reveal His glory, but you must recognize that it is the longing for relationship that triggers the response.
Jeremiah 33:1-3 (The Message)
1 While Jeremiah was still locked up in jail, a second Message from God was given to him: 2-3"This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God: ’Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’
Relationship begins with communication and grows exponentially from there.