“This could be the beginning of the end for the human race! For what men first thought were meteors or the often-ridiculed flying saucers are, in reality, the flaming vanguard of the invasion from Mars!”
So go the opening lines in the trailer for the 1953 sci-fi thriller, War of the Worlds. My dad, who grew up in Depression-era Texas, remembers the infamous radio broadcast by Orson Welles, but he said he wasn’t scared. “We lived so far out in the sticks,” he recounted with a drawl, “that those little green men from outer space would never have found us.”
Having grown up on alien-invasion movies, I was captured by recent headlines that described a recurring signal from about 500 million light years away. This fast radio burst – known as FRB 180916.J0158+65 to astronomers – occurs every 16 days, which led me to believe that this might be that long-awaited proof of extraterrestrial life. Alas – no. There are competing theories on what is causing these regular radio bursts, but it is most likely the result of a massive star coupled with a collapsing, super-dense neutron star. The interaction between these two heavenly bodies is likely emitting the FRBs.
Don’t expect any podcasts from ET in the near future.
The Visited Planet
For thousands of years, the Jews had received transmissions from God through the prophets. Then, the divine broadcaster himself showed up.
Many of us grew up on the Chronicles of Narnia, the fantasy series written by C.S. Lewis. The great Oxford professor also penned numerous books on Christianity, including God in the Dock. In this collection of essays, Lewis writes, “The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be a myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history.” Lewis is referring to Christ, the One who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
For some, Jesus is a myth on par with Zeus and Thor. But consider this: the gods of myth never saved an adulteress from stoning; never healed blind men and hemorrhaging women; never fed the hungry or invited the hopeless to new life. In other words, the deities of other religions did not practice love. They battled, they drank, they fooled around, but they didn’t seem to care about the fate of humanity. By contrast, history attests to Jesus, the workman from Nazareth who traveled dusty roads, broke bread with sinners, and embraced the unlovable.
Christ – One God to Rule Them All
Jesus is altogether different from any religious figure – historical or mythic. Buddha never claimed to be God; in fact, he insisted he was not a divine being and had to attain enlightenment. Jesus, on the other hand, seemed to know who he was from an early age. At 12, he amazed the institutional religious teachers with his spiritual insight and never walked back his numerous claims of divinity.
Mohammed did not view himself as God, but merely a messenger of Allah’s dictates. Despite his stature as a prophet, there were times he felt demonized and even contemplated suicide. Jesus never expressed angst or hopelessness. He radiated life and light wherever he traveled, and regally stood calm when threatened with cruel death from the high priest and Roman governor.
The Hebrew prophets recorded incredible revelations of God, but none of them displayed the perfection of Jesus. Abraham lied, Moses disobeyed, Jeremiah despaired, Jonah pouted. Jesus did none of these. He displayed a range of human emotions, but you never catch him sinning.
Paying a Call
The possibility of aliens visiting the earth is a staple of books and movies, even as far back as the 17th century when Voltaire wrote a short story entitled “Micromégas.” In this tale, two colossal aliens visit earth, marveling at tiny specks that turn out to be human beings.
Marvel at this: someone from another dimension has already paid us a call. From this otherworldly place that the Apostle Paul called “the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:1-4), Jesus came not as a strange alien bent on destruction and domination, but as the God of love in true human flesh. In fact, Jesus revealed that his specific purpose was “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
The discovery of a fast radio burst from outer space is pretty exciting, but it can never compare to the message that God transmits through his Son, Jesus Christ:
You are worth loving.
You are worth reaching.
You are worth saving.