What Messages Are We Sending?

What Messages Are We Sending?

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes

Brent Pollard

The website Live Science recently published an article about our attempts through the years to communicate with extraterrestrial life. The piece, written by Isobel Whitcomb, is entitled “What messages have we sent to aliens?” We think of World War II as ushering in the concept of “little green men” with reported citings of UFOs (i.e., foo fighters) during aerial combat over Europe and the Pacific. Indeed, in the postwar years, Hollywood began churning out science fiction flicks like The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951.  

Yet, people were thinking of the possibility of life “out there” before the mid-twentieth century. You may recall that H.G. Wells wrote War of the Worlds in 1897. Whitcomb mentions that Austrian astronomer, Joseph Johann Von Littrow, conceived the idea of digging trenches in the Sahara Desert and filling it with kerosene to set ablaze to send a message to otherworldly observers. Von Littrow envisioned this plan which never saw fruition in the early nineteenth century! 

From this point, Whitcomb points out the progressively advanced plans made and executed by humanity as our technology advanced. In 1962, Soviet scientists directed radio waves at Venus containing “peace” in Morse code. Eventually, in the late 1970s, the United States sent out two spacecraft which they hoped would be discovered by extraterrestrials in interstellar space. Yes, governments have spent millions of dollars to be greeted only with silence. (Another Live Science article by Mindy Weisberger posits that aliens ignore us after observing us like animals in a zoo.)  

Rather than worrying about messages that will never receive a response, we ought to concern ourselves more with messages we send to terrestrial and celestial beings. As Edgar Guest famously reminds us, most people would rather see a sermon than hear one. Indeed, our lives are sending out a message to others.  

  • We are sending a message to our spouses. Do husbands, specifically, love their wives as Christ loves the church? (Ephesians 5.25) Have wives been encouraged to love their husbands? (Titus 2.4) Do the husband and wife recall that they are not to separate what God has joined? (Matthew 19.6)  
  • We are sending a message to our children. Children see whether mom and dad seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6.33). Are fathers bringing up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6.4)? Are mothers doing as Eunice and instilling a sincere faith in their children? (2 Timothy 1.5) 
     
  • We are sending a message to our neighbors. Do they see someone who strives to live peaceably with others to the extent to which it is possible? (Romans 12.17-19) Do they see someone following the “Golden Rule”? (Matthew 7.12) Do they know you love them as you love yourself? (Romans 13.9) 
     
  • We are sending a message to our enemies. Do they see someone who loves them despite being their enemy? (Matthew 5.44) Do they see one turning the other cheek to them? (Matthew 5.39-41) 
     
  • We are sending a message to the lost. Do the lost see one whose lack of self-discipline disqualifies the Gospel preached? (1 Corinthians 9.26-27). Do they see someone ashamed of the pure, unadulterated Gospel message? (Romans 1.16) 
     
  • We are sending a message to God. Our ways lay before the eyes of God, and He is watching all our paths (Proverbs 5.21). He will judge us according to even the secret things we have done (Ecclesiastes 12.14). Since God knows the heart, He knows who merely gives Him lip-service (Matthew 15.8-9). 

Yes, we are sending out messages. What messages are we sending? No, we don’t have to worry about miscommunication with the “Roswell Greys,” but we should concern ourselves with the message God and our fellow humans hear from us.  

Works Consulted: 

Whitcomb, Isobel. “What Messages Have We Sent to Aliens?” LiveScience, Future US, Inc, 20 Mar. 2021,www.livescience.com/messages-sent-to-aliens.html

Weisberger, Mindy. “Are Aliens Ignoring Us? Maybe We’re Already Their Captives in a ‘Galactic Zoo.’” LiveScience, Future US, Inc., 25 Mar. 2019, www.livescience.com/65063-meti-galactic-zoo-aliens.html.  

Further Reading: 

Janos, Adam. “Mysterious UFOs Seen by WWII Airman Still Unexplained.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 15 Aug. 2018, www.history.com/news/wwii-ufos-allied-airmen-orange-lights-foo-fighters

How Well Do We Listen?

How Well Do We Listen?

Neal Pollard

A Dilbert comic strip by Scott Adams is a side-splitter! Dilute is sitting in one of what seems like an endless series of meetings, and the fellow next to him is droning on and on about something. Dilbert thinks to himself that he will substitute an optimistic remark for listening and winds up making an inappropriate and awkward remark. The droner is aghast!

Listening is not a forte for most of us. In casual conversation with either acquaintances or intimate friends we often are much more intent to have our say than to hear out the other person. McKay and Davis, in Messages, mentions no fewer than 12 “listening blocks” (comparing, mind-reading, judging, dreaming, sparring, placating, etc.) (8-12). On just about anyone’s list of main contributors to marital difficulty is communication breakdown. A spouse may even hear what the other is saying but still miss the deeper messages being sent. Our children will find an audience to share their fears, questions, confusions, frustrations, and hopes. Parents who do not give their children an open forum, no matter how inconvenient it may be for them at times, lose their spot at that precious roundtable. In the church, we often lose our members–especially when they are in emotional, financial, or spiritual crisis–because we are not listening to what they say is going on with them.

We know how frustrated we feel when we think we have not been heard. Preachers and Bible class teachers usually have moments along the way when they think, “If I stopped talking right now, would anybody know or care?” Soul-winners may feel that their students sometimes respond to their teaching by tuning out the message. Elders and members often feel that way toward each other, that they are not being heard.

Let me encourage you to, borrowing the words of Jesus, “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18). A friend and former elder, John Langham, once reminded me of Proverbs 18:13, that “he who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” Make a special effort, in whatever position as listener you may find yourself, to work hard to actively, faithfully tune in to the one speaking to you. It is not only polite, but it allows you to be more clearly heard. Let’s practice today!

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