In July, Roswell, New Mexico, celebrated their annual UFO Alien Festival to commemorate the purported 1947 crash landing of an extraterrestrial alien. (Funny, but in the 50’s and 60’s nobody talked about the incident; at least not above a whisper.) Just 25 miles south, Artesia was in the news because the U.S. Border Patrol training facility was converted into a holding area for hundreds of illegal aliens to the Unites States, awaiting deportation back to places in Central America. July of 2014 was a big month for talk of aliens in New Mexico. Not all of that talk was favorable to aliens; yet we have all been aliens.
Some Native Americans make a big deal of pointing out that most Americans were at one time aliens to this land. Paul, however, says we were aliens in a different way.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Col 1:21-22)
Anyone who is subject to “wicked works” (sin) is an alien to the kingdom of God. What does that mean? Just as anyone who is not a citizen of the United States is an alien to that country, being an alien through sin means we were not citizens of God’s kingdom. We did not have the rights and privileges of that kingdom, including the privilege of forgiveness of sin. We had no right to an inheritance for eternity in heaven.
Now, for most people in the world, being an alien to the United States is no big deal. Most people would choose to stay where they live, even under difficult circumstances. Some, especially those in dire straits, choose to try to change their residence, but most are content to stay where they are. After all, even we in the United States are alien to other countries, but we don’t see that as a disadvantage. The problem with being alienated from God is that one country may not be as good as another. In the spiritual world there are really only two choices: in Christ or out of Christ, in extreme poverty of the soul or in wealth. Some may choose to stay in the poverty of sin. Most who recognize it as true poverty would choose to come to the wealth.
There are two choices for coming to the United States. A few come legally, immigrating in the approved (though sometimes time-consuming) manner. Among all the news stories in July, there was also one about hundreds of people receiving their citizenship in one day. But there were also the illegal aliens; those who chose to try to enter the country illegally. Some in the United States proposed amnesty, letting them enter even though they showed a disregard for the laws of the country. Others argued for deportation unless they entered legally.
There are likewise two choices for entering the kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of an illegal way. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. I am the door.” (Jn 10:1, 9) The illegal way includes those who say that there are many roads to heaven. It includes those who say that Jesus was a good man, even a prophet, but was not the Messiah, the son of God. It includes those who say that all you have to do is say a particular prayer and you will be saved. It includes those who say all you have to do is be a good person, and surely God will save you. It includes those who think they can earn salvation on their own merit. There are many illegal border crossings, all of which will get one deported from the kingdom.
There is also a legal way. Just as with the mass swearing in of new citizens of the United States on July 4, there has been a mass swearing in of new citizens to the kingdom. “Then they that gladly received his word were immersed: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41) Likewise, many enter legally every day. We were aliens in our wickedness, but those of us who have joined in the burial and resurrection of Christ (Rom 6) have become citizens, legally, of God’s kingdom, with all the rights and privileges which pertain.