Reflections On An Alien

I was on a plane recently when I noticed a ten-year-old boy playing with a plastic replica of some horrible creature from outer space. It had purple bat wings, long red steer horns, a pig snout, glowing red eyes, and silver crab claws for hands. Its two legs were composed of three skinless bones that joined at the ankle, forming huge eagle talons for feet.

   His toy was somebody's nightmare!

   It immediately started me reflecting. In a rash of fascination with science-fiction, movie producers, authors, and now even toy manufacturers have engaged their imaginations to create a wild array of alien creatures. But these other-than-human beings always seem to turn out hideous rather than beautiful.

   Even E.T., whom we learned to love — at least some did — was not initially a desirable friend. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to curl up next to his crusty little body!

   To what do we attribute this propensity for the macabre? If imagining something wonderful in outer space is just as easy, why don't we see more of that as well?

   One possible explanation might be the innate fallenness of

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man. Perhaps the effects of man's fall are far greater than we realize and our fear of the unknown brings out this subconscious malignancy.

   But at the same time, perhaps we are far more wonderful than we realize. So wonderful that it's hard for us to come up with anything better — like dressing up a Christmas tree with tinsel, lights, and balls and then stepping back to admire it, knowing all along that it looked better growing green and tall in the forest.

   Or could it be that the real reason for this tendency is that good, in fact, is not as easily accessible to man as evil? My own evaluation of art would prove this. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to portray hate than love or bad than good, how monsters are more numerous than masterpieces, how "before" is more graphic than "after," or how sin is more alluring than conversion? Creating "downward" appears to come much more easily than creating "upwards."

   In the Gospel of Mark, a man rushed up to Jesus with a question. He addressed Jesus as "good teacher," but Jesus interrupted his question by saying, "Why do you call me 'good?' No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:17, 18).

   Herein lies our problem. When we try to portray goodness, we are venturing into a realm inhabited by God alone. We are attempting to express that which we have lost, that which is beyond our ability to create.

   How then will we present beauty and goodness to the world? I believe Steven Spielberg touched upon the answer in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It was one movie that presented a creature more wonderful than man. But Spielberg wisely chose not to portray the creature itself, only the wonder and awe in the eyes of its beholders; we saw not the creature, but its reflection in the faces of those who gazed upon it.

   This reminds us of Paul's words in 2 Cor. 3:18: "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

   This is how we present God's glory to the world. We do not ape it, dramatize it, or cover it with tinsel and lights. But as we make Him the focus of our lives, we will reflect Him through what we are and what we do.

   Oh, that the world might watch us watching Him and wonder at what they see!

Chapter 19  ||  Table of Contents