Close Encounter

When it comes to alien space creatures landing on earth, Steven Spielberg does it the best.  Compared to the jittery, puppet-like, bubble-eyed “aliens” in the sci-fi films of my youth, lurching about in with ray guns and saying “Greetings, Earth people,” Spielberg knocks it out of the park.  Go YouTubing and check out the end of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”  The response of the clueless government officials and scientific experts (with their skinny black ties and pocket protectors) is hilarious.  In contrast, Richard Dreyfuss and the little kid are swept up in a rapturous sense of amazement and awe.  Spielberg makes us want to be there, and gives us the sense that we would “get it,” we would not be blinded by the computers and oscilloscopes.  We’d be like the little kid, gazing in wonder and awe but taking it in with openness and acceptance.

But Spielberg doesn’t know the half of it.  The scenes he has imagined will look stilted and silly compared to the glorious, mind-blowing return of Christ!

“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 16:27)

Try to imagine what “His Father’s glory” means.  “The Father” is the One Who created the blaze of a supernova, the brilliance of a desert sunset, and the sparkle in a drop of dew.  When His “glory” is revealed, it’s going to be astonishing.  Jesus gave a brief preview to a few of His disciples (see: Matthew 16:28 – 17:9) and it terrified them.  Talk about “close encounters…”

But as powerful as that will be, you don’t need to be terrified by what Jesus said next: “…and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”  Jesus wasn’t saying He will get out the heavenly yardstick to see if you measure up, to see if you have done enough.  The words “what he has done” literally mean your “practice,” the essence and sum of your life as a whole.

But the idea of being judged by what we have done caused the people to ask Jesus,

“…“What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”” (John 6:28b-29)

When Jesus returns in His Father’s glory and with angels, He will reward those whose life and practice were marked by a wholehearted belief in Him.  He will welcome them into His eternal kingdom.  And what will that be like?  Spielberg, himself, couldn’t imagine it.  But when that day comes, you will want to be there.  Some will miss it, blinded by their religious presuppositions.  But if you put your faith in Jesus, you will be one of those who “get it.”

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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