Today’s Reading: Acts 7
One of my favorite books by C. S. Lewis is called God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics. In it, he includes a chapter called “Cross Examination,” which is a question and answer time with Professor Lewis. One of the questions: “Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?” His response: “I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness. . . . I can’t bear to think of it.”
Of alien life, George Bernard Shaw noted, “The longer I live, the more I am inclined to the belief that this earth is used by other planets as its lunatic asylum.”
But my favorite is Rick Warren’s statement: “If UFO aliens are so smart, why do they kidnap the dumbest people on earth?”
Today we’re talking about aliens, but let me tell you about the aliens I am referring to. They aren’t from Mars or Venus, they’re from right here in Acts 7. The word alien has become familiar today with all the debate surrounding our southern borders and the wall. But that’s the word I want us to see here in Acts 7.
It is from a sermon that Stephen preached. This sermon is the second longest sermon in the New Testament, next to the Sermon on the Mount. Stephen will not end his sermon with music, an altar call, or a challenge. This sermon will end with his listeners being so angry that they stone him to death.
The longest part of his sermon speaks about Moses and the alien issue. I want to show you how God’s man and God’s deliverer became an alien before he became a deliverer. Stephen recounted, “At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons” (Acts 7:29).
Think of that: a remark changed Moses’ life. The remark was, “Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?” (Acts 7:28, MSG). The back story is that Moses started to feel his calling rise up when he saw an Egyptian abuse a Jewish slave. He killed the Egyptian and expected his people to celebrate. Instead they criticized. And then someone made the remark, which made Moses flee and become an alien.
Our words have life and death to them. As Proverbs 18:21 reminds us: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The Message says it like this: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
What have you heard that has lodged in your soul? What word have you heard that changed what you are and where you are today? Who spoke those words to you? Has someone said something to you that has changed you into something you never wanted to be?
Someone can be one crazy comment away from becoming an alien.
It happened to Moses: “At this remark, Moses fled and became an alien.” Twenty-four words changed royalty into a fugitive and an alien at forty years old. A remark took him from the palace and put him in the desert. The words brought fear and put him on the run.
Have you ever heard life-altering words?
You will never be anything.
You aren’t even my real child.
You were a mistake.
You are just like your father.
I hate you.
I wish I never had you.
People’s hearts are so fragile and people’s words are so careless. When fragile and careless intersect, you get aliens—people becoming something they never intended to become.
The opposite happens when life words are spoken.
I love you.
I’m proud of you.
I was thinking of you.
I’m praying for you.
Those are life words.
Some of these words you have never heard, I have never heard, our youth have never heard, but we can change that today. When life words are spoken, huge life comes to them.
There is a place in Sydney, Australia, called “The Gap.” You don’t buy clothes there for your teenager. You go there if you want to commit suicide. It’s a rocky cliff where people jump off. Don and Moya Ritchie live next to The Gap, and for almost fifty years, the Ritchies saved an estimated 160 people from certain death. Every morning as soon as Don woke up, he would look out their window to see if anyone was standing all alone too close to the edge. If he sensed someone contemplating suicide, he approached them and asked if there was something he could do to help them, hoping for an opportunity to “sell them” on life.
“Be [kind],” says Rev. John Watson, “for every man is fighting a hard battle.” How can we help people with heavy hearts today? We can speak life. Proverbs 12:25 tells us that “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”
Give someone a life word today. Text it. Say it. Write it. You don’t know what it will mean to them.