Saturday 3 September 2011

The Aliens Have Landed by Ralph Harris

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)

God’s purpose for our Christian kids is far greater than whether they get along in class, do well in school, find good jobs, or become upstanding citizens in a world in need of role models. Because His purpose and plan is much higher than those things, he has already changed them. They won’t “get there” sometime after middle school, high school, or college—they’ve already arrived! And they’re in a nasty, very confusing storm. By His grace and through the truth, our daughters will know the nature of the storm in which they live. Your kids should too.

Our kids are aliens (John 17:16; 1 Peter 2:11). That is an incredible fact, and it’s going to hurt, which is why they have a built-in need for us. Intimacy with my daughters does not come from the daily Bible-teaching I’m supposed to do with them, and it does not come out of any moral instruction I may have for them either. I achieve intimacy with them by sharing in their uncomfortable and impossible fit in this world. I know the terrible struggle, I know the tempting lure, and now they do too.

It hurts. But the pain keeps us from depending on the false comforts and techniques of this world that would cover up and diminish our “alienness.” Knowing why our fit in this world hurts makes the pain understandable and perhaps tolerable. The pain Sarah and I have is the very same pain Ellen and Emma have, and it’s there for a reason. When I forget who I am, that pain eventually gets my attention so that I repent and go back to God for a reminder.

I can’t simply treat my kids as God would. I must think of my kids as God does. When I see what He sees, I fit with Him and feel it! When I do not, I give Him some work to do—on me. Our Christian children are aliens, and we live together in a land that’s not our own. If we can get that, our approach to them will be vastly different and uniquely invigorating, and it will keep us living on the edge of the visible world and invisible. And for us, that’s pretty normal.

The devil wants our “alienness” to seem impractical. If we fall for that, we will remain undetected to ourselves, deceived from knowing how incredible and valuable we are. That’s the scheme against us and our children. As soon as we’re born again, our new identity marks us for the grace of God, but it also marks us as targets for the enemy—and he is merciless. The best strategy of the devil is the one least noticeable, the one which slowly ensnares its victim. It’s even better if the victim likes the fit.

While the Holy Spirit, Sarah, and I work to raise our girls in the knowledge of God so they can really live, there is a carnival of activity vying for their attention and allegiance. The big attractions are which television shows to watch, which fashions to wear, which recreational activities to choose, which cell phones to have, which foods to eat, and which boys to like. That’s because visible life all around them demands their attention.

The more opinionated my girls become about visible life, the less opinionated they become about invisible life. The more Ellen and Emma grow passionate about how to clothe themselves, the less they care about the clothing they have already in Christ (see Galatians 3:26-29). The more engrossed they become in what makes up the right boy, the right food, and the right cell phone to have, the more deeply they dive into the pursuit of trivial nobility (Chapter 2). That’s the snare. If the visible world becomes my girl’s dominant passion-lighter of life, they will exchange true life for a fake. And the cover-up will be complete. Getting them to make the proper exchange later can prove terribly difficult because their expectations will have been lowered. They will try to appease their appetite for the bread of life by stuffing themselves with bread that does not satisfy. I have; haven’t you?

We won’t win by dressing them in frumpy duds, forbidding them to like boys, or throwing the television into the trash. We believe we are working in concert with the Spirit when we are building them up in Christ by reminding them who they are and pointing out what friction with this world really means. They are incredible aliens! We don’t want that covered up. They’re not only human—they’re alien. It takes discipline to remember their “alienness” because the devil daily lies to them about their identity.

(Excerpted from my book, “God’s Astounding Opinion of You,” chapter 12: “Aliens Have Landed—The Proper Care and Feeding of the Everyday Foreigners in Your Family. For more information and to read reviews by Steve McVey, Andrew Farley, David Gregory, Malcolm Smith and more, go to, to, or you can find it at your local bookstore.)

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