I’ve always enjoyed science fiction films that act as social commentary in one way or another. One of the best recent movies to expertly use science fiction to make a greater point was District 9. District 9 is a decade old alien film in which certain humans are the villains and the aliens are primarily misunderstood victims. In District 9 the aliens who are called Prawns come to earth posing no real threat and possessing gifts of technology they could share with humanity. Unfortunately for these Prawns, mankind sees them as strange foreigners and quickly most come to hate these aliens that have a different way of life then mankind. Amidst this rejection many of the Prawns keep hope through the knowledge that though they are in a foreign land they would one day go to their home world. This hope impacted their whole lives while on this earth; it caused them to invest their time preparing to return home, this hope enables them to endure hard treatment, it even allows them to show great compassion to someone who hated them the most.
Today it is hard to avoid the reality that Christians are aliens in this world. We aren’t the evil invader kind of aliens, but we are certainly the District 9 refugee kind of aliens. Though recent generations of American Christians have been able to operate under the wrong assumptions that they belong in this world and that our culture is basically Christian, Generation Z Christians will not have that luxury. Our youth need to be prepared for the reality that if they are in Christ they are aliens to this fallen world and maybe if we try to prepare them they will in turn teach us to better live like aliens.
This year Faith Family Church’s youth ministry will embrace a new name, namely Area 51. We love the emphasis of The Blob youth group and we hope to continue to be a place where youth are swallowed up into the blob. This said, Area 51 will be a name that helps us embrace the reality that our teens are aliens. We want the reality of our alien nature to not only be something our youth come to understand but something they celebrate. We hope this will show our young people we will and should stand out in this world, they should expect persecution, and that “Cultural Christianity” is an oxymoron. We will soon sing songs about our journey to our heavenly home, we will have events that reflect our weirdness, but the most exciting way we will emphasize this will be our Fall Area 51 study. We will study the Bibles letter to alien Christians; 1 Peter. 1 Peter is the Apostle Peter’s letter to Christians scattered and far from their heavenly home that they await. The Christians Peter wrote to were being rejected for their faith and were learning how who their new heavenly citizenship changes their lifestyles and choices. Peter even calls these Christians aliens multiple times. Of course, Peter wasn’t thinking of space aliens, he compared Christians to what we know as sojourners or just immigrants. No matter the specific imagery, Peter wrote to Christians that found out the hard way they don’t belong here. The audience of 1 Peter sounds a whole lot like the upcoming Generation Z to me. I think this Fall study that we will call “Being Aliens” will truly help teens see who they are.
Be warned, if our youth truly embrace life as they aliens society will regard them as we might become uncomfortable ourselves. For all the things Generation Z is criticized for, they are far less interested than other generations in waging Partisan warfare. In our churches even Christian Gen Zers are far less interested in marriage laws than they are interested in helping the needy. There is good in this and if they do embrace life as aliens they will give up any Christian mentality of taking a country back for God and instead realize aliens lose the culture war but wins something much better. Alien Christians will both realize this world is foreign territory for God’s family and that even movements that share some values with Christians are of this world. Instead young Alien Christians will become passionate about preparing for their eternal home and showing their friends in this lost world our great alien hope in Christ.
If we are Christians, we are aliens. We can pretend we fit into this world or lament that this foreign turf is starting to act like foreign turf but nonetheless we are still aliens and we are supposed to be. Our young people are already having to make a choice to either conform to the world or embrace life as an alien. Let’s all young and old embrace our weird green skin and life in exile. Let’s embrace being aliens so the world can know our other worldly hope.