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Today: Wednesday, September 20, 2017
 


 

Out of this world

First published 17 Sep 2017



Can you imagine living on Mars?  Or nearer to home, what would it be like to be settling down on the moon?  I have great difficulty imagining either.  In a way, it’s a relief that at my age it’s not going to happen!

Yet there are young people today who would jump at the chance, and some of them are right now being put through gruelling tests to see if they have what it takes to become astronauts and a new generation of colonisers of space.  And there are people with vast wealth who are prepared to pay for them to adventure into the solar system.

Some people, including leading scientists, are so excited by this possibility that they are making great predictions about the future of mankind being in space, and are being very positive and hopeful about the future of the human race because of what we are on the verge of achieving.  The future is out of this world!

There is a strange parallel here with what Christians have claimed for centuries - that the future of humanity is beyond here, out of this world.  Their dream is not of living in space, but of new heavens and a new earth, a whole new transformed world which God is going to bring.

The problem with both dreams, the space dream and the heaven dream, is that great though they are, they can divert us from the reality of earth and our lives here.  Christians have sometimes been accused of being so heavenly minded, they are no earthly use.  At least the technologies that will take us into space can also bring major benefits on earth.  Both dreams, in other words need to be rooted in life now here on earth.

And that raises for me the biggest question of all.  Why is it that a fresh colony of human beings living on the moon, or any other alien environment, is going to fair any better in the long term than colonies on earth?  Living in a new place will not make new people, even if they are fundamentally dependent on each other for survival.  As spacecraft go, this earth is a far better place to live than anywhere else we yet know about.  We need to make sense of living here.

Think of the first European settlers in America.  Many of them went with great dreams of a new society with religious freedom, without oppression, with mutual cooperation.  But looking back now, and seeing how they struggled and faced conflict, how successful were they?  The trouble with that dream, just like the dream of space, is that human beings cannot help but take their human failings with them even into their greatest dreams.

The Christian dream is not of a new kind of human lifestyle brought about by relocating to a whole new world, but of people themselves, whether on earth or in space, transformed by the grace of God.  For that we need the rescue mission of Jesus, we need the motivating power of the Holy Spirit, and we need lives made new by God.




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Prayer:

Give thanks to God for the wonders of the universe, for new possibilities of travel and discovery beyond our own planet, but pray too for humility in the face of our own human failures.  Lord God, by your power make us fit to live on earth and fit for your heaven, through Christ who died that whoever and wherever we are we may live life as you want, life in all its wonderful richness.





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