Leaping from the Twilight Zone to New Testament
Well, I asked for it. Last week I invited you to submit suggestions for sermons on topics or passages that are of particular interest to you. Any topic or passage I consider myself to be somewhat competent to address, I will speak on. And any topic or passage I consider “too hot to handle” I indicated I might be passing those on to Jared! Well, it looks like Jared is going to be busier than usual for a while. So far I have received three such suggestions. One was on serving, another was with regard to what the Bible says about slavery, and the third (albeit a tongue in cheek suggestion), was about cannibalism. The topic of serving is one I think I might be able to handle without getting burned, but the other two are pretty hot topics! At this point I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to proceed, but in this article, I’m going to attempt to weave all three of the aforementioned topics together. Here goes.
In one of the most famous episodes of Rod Serling’s classic television show The Twilight Zone, aliens land on earth. These aliens are much more advanced than human beings. They present a gift to the residents of earth, a book written in the aliens’ language, the translated title of which is To Serve Man. The aliens set about doing good for humankind while a team of translators works on deciphering the book. Putting their advanced technology to work, the aliens soon eradicate famine and war. Eventually, residents of earth begin volunteering for excursions to the aliens’ home planet. One of the translators is about the enter the ship for his journey to the alien planet when a co-worker, who has now translated the book, runs up to the ship, screaming at him, “Don’t get on the ship. The book, To Serve Man…it’s a cookbook!” The title of the book really meant “to serve man” as in “to serve people up as food.” So there’s your allusion to cannibalism.
Now let’s make the considerable leap from The Twilight Zone to the New Testament. In Mark 10, James and John express their desire for positions of honor in Jesus’ kingdom. Along with these aspirations of greatness, they envision themselves being served. But Jesus says, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” There’s your reference to both serving and slavery. Jesus links the two together with greatness, something that seems totally contradictory to our way of thinking. Yet, the substance of Christian living and ministry is self-emptying, God-centered, other-focused, sacrificial service.
Although The Twilight Zone seems a little far-fetched, consider what we believe. An alien comes to earth in the form of a baby. Claiming to be God in the flesh, he comes not to be served, but to serve. He comes, not to use people for his own advantage, but to lay his life down to save them. The authorities feel threatened by him, and torture him to death. But the God-man resurrects from the dead on the third day, just as he said he would. And anyone who believes on him will have eternal life in a paradise we call heaven.