Did you ever wish you could be an astronaut? Walk on the moon or visit distant stars? Be one of the first to colonize Mars? If you’re a Christian, you are an astronaut!
I came across a video of the last men to walk on the moon, NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, and it provoked my interest. As I listened, I began to think of the parallels between America’s space program and Christians’ lives on this planet.
Christians are “walking on the moon”, meaning that we are in a foreign environment, spiritually. Faith in Jesus is an unnatural “environment” that leads to people caring about a world that can only be seen by the eyes of faith. A world that leads some people to abandon a comfortable, safe environment and become missionaries in uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe places, amid often ungrateful people. It’s a world that leads people to be honest when honesty costs them. To be witnesses to that invisible Kingdom when they are sneered at, mocked, and in many places now, tortured, abused, and murdered because of their witness.
Christians have a different focus, different goals, a different moral standard.
“One-fifth of humanity watched Neil Armstrong’s footsteps in 1969.” I wonder how much of humanity is watching Christians. That’s a heavy responsibility. One thing that’s very satisfactory: it appears that the devil is very worried about the rest of the world seeing us: there is a trend to demand that religion be a private matter, that no one talk about it to anyone else. The devil is scared of Christian witness! Of course, if you’re over the target, you will catch flack …
“[The Sanhedrin] called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:40-42)
When Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the moon at the landing of Apollo 11, he said, “That’s one small step for a man … one giant leap for mankind.”
We take our small steps to build the Body of Christ, that is, all true believers in Jesus, on this earth, and few who are not Christians realize that the presence of genuine, committed believers in Jesus is the salt that preserves their nation and the light that brings wisdom and all its good results to them. Small steps for us, but giant leaps for the nation and community which accepts the influence of God through Christians.
“Apollo 17 is the hidden jewel of the US lunar space program. “ We are the hidden jewels of earth, not because we’re worthy of that title, but in the eyes of Him Who sent His only Son to rescue us from our sins, because we are faithful to Him Who redeemed us: “Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.‘ ” (Malachi 3:16-18)
“The world knows how the Apollo program began, but very few truly understand how it ended. This is the remarkable story of the courage and determination of a generation.“
Since Jesus’ resurrection, Christians have often had to be courageous and determined. Many have been pushed beyond their limits and have found that God supplies the courage and determination they lack. Our story is remarkable, because it demonstrates the reality of the God Who saved us. “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.” Our faith is the evidence of the God we believe in.
It took more than 4,000 men and women to accomplish just the Apollo 17 mission. It has taken untold thousands of Christians over two thousand years to carry the message of redemption, of forgiveness of sins and salvation, from Resurrection Sunday to now. The blood of martyrs, the patient, unremarkable lives of “ordinary” Christians, evangelists, theologians, church members of many denominations, fathers and mothers whose “only” contribution was to raise their children in faith … thousands upon thousands of stories that have made the angels shout for joy and made the heart of the Lord glad. We will be hearing those stories for many years inside heaven’s gates. Our stories. Those who determined to be faithful, whether it cost their lives or whether their lives were scarcely noticed by those around them. God saw it all. He caused it all to be recorded.
“Politically, the race to beat the Russians to the moon was won. But NASA’s scientific mission was just begun.” Christians are fond of saying that the war has already been won, and that’s true. But we are only now nearing the end of one phase of living out faith in Jesus in front of the world, and only eternity will reveal the full extent of the influence of the Holy One of Israel through the lives of His committed followers.
“Jack Schmidt [a geologist selected for Apollo 17] … people said he had a fanatical focus on Apollo. There were some of his colleagues who doubted that he had any other life apart from Apollo. But he got himself noticed for the right reasons. Totally committed.” And Christians like Martin Luther, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, Lottie Moon, Billy Sunday, John Wesley, Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and many more were noticed because they were “fanatically committed” to the cause of spreading the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. They got noticed for the best of reasons!
“We, as human beings, committed ourselves to the gravitational pull of another planet … Apollo was the first time that human beings did that. There was no absolute guarantee that you were going to return. But it broke that bond with the earth.”
We who are genuine Christians have committed ourselves to the “gravitational pull” of God’s Kingdom. There is no absolute guarantee that we will get through this life without persecution, but we have broken the bond with Earth – that is, we live in this world, but we recognize that we are no longer OF this world, and that fact affects everything we do, say, and think.
“As I step off at the surface at Taurus Littrow, we’d like to dedicate these first steps of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible.” We who live today need to salute and honor those who went before us. The stories of their dedication to the Kingdom of God are incredible. There was one instance where two believers in England were being led out to be burned at the stake for refusing to renounce their faith. One of them called to the other, “Be strong and of good cheer, brother! For by God’s grace we shall this day light such a fire in England as shall never go out!“
And above all, we should honor and serve the King Who left his throne to suffer and die a horrible death to rescue us.
The planting of the American flag on the moon. We who are believers in Jesus have been privileged to “plant His flag” in many nations, in many hostile conditions, and often at great personal risk and cost.
Mere dust threatened the astronauts’ lives, and the Lunar Rover’s battery. Like small sins. “Good engineering is gonna have to keep the dust out of things. It is very abrasive … ” A strong faith can only br achieved by keeping even the mere dust of “small sins” out of our lives. Can you be a Christian and live in sin? Yes, but the potential for wrecking your faith and your witness is multiplied by doing so.
“Apollo 17’s true science potential was saved by duct tape. Don’t go anywhere without it!” The basic, simple, easy things are important in ways we can’t often foresee: prayer, Bible reading, fellowship with other believers …
“Any time you felt a little bit homesick, you could look up and see the earth … only 240,000 miles away … Communications were outstanding. I never felt isolated on the moon at all.”
God communicates to us through His Word primarily, and we should be in communication with other believers, thereby strengthening and encouraging them and ourselves. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
It is an honor and a privilege to be a member of the Body of Christ, and to be acquainted with those of you who come to this site. May God strengthen us and encourage us for the year ahead through His Word and our fellowship.