Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Passing the Homeless Alien Test

The classic Sci-Fi television series Farscape was about John Crichton, a human astronaut who got sucked through a wormhole and discovered himself in a distant part of the universe surrounded by strange life-forms. In one particular episode, he encountered a wormhole that allowed him to return to Earth, something he had been searching for since the day he got sucked away from home. He returned through the wormhole and was followed by some of his alien friends. While some people handled the aliens' arrival well, most did not. One of his friends was killed and dissected. The others were all locked in cages until he was forced to escape. Eventually, John noticed that some of the details didn't add up. Apparently, John had never returned to Earth, but an alien species which was looking for a new home had been testing humanity through John's memories to see if they would be accepted. Humanity didn't pass the test, although John did.

Quite often, we encounter tests without realizing that we are being tested. James wrote, "Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials and temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:2-3, SPT*). While James went on to talking about how our trials can serve to mature us, he takes for granted what we can easily forget: trials and temptations are tests of faith. We tend to do better on tests when we know we are taking them. We often make better decisions when we know people are watching us and grading us on those decisions. Trials and temptations are the same way, but we often fail to recognize them for what they are: a test of faith.

How we handle a trial, how we view the trial, changes when we realize that our faith is being tested. When we realize that the ultimate decision is whether to trust our God or follow our own desires and wisdom, we normally find the trials and temptations easier to navigate than when we simply ask, "How should I handle this?" When we're tempted to provide for ourselves in less than honest ways, recognizing the decision as a test of faith clarifies which course of action we should take. When we face a situation so difficult we are tempted to give up, viewing it as a test of faith helps us discover the resolve to continue.

Whatever trials or temptations you may be facing, remember that they are tests of your faith. Sometimes just remembering that can help you pass the test.

*Stickler's Personal Translation

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