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An alien gift

An alien flew through my window the night after Christmas. A beautiful Christmas beetle. I hadn’t seen one for years, but there it was, decked out in its Christmas colours of green and golden brown, alive and loudly squawking. As kids growing up, we had them by the plenty, along with their cousins of the plain brown kind. But in recent years, their non-appearance at Christmas time has been the cause of much wistfulness.

What made it doubly-special was the timing of my little alien’s visit. I was working on a sentence from Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:9), where Paul speaks of abandoning our own lamentable self-righteousness in favour of embracing the righteousness that God provides: namely, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that consists of his life of perfect obedience in place of my own lack of it, and his atoning death in answer to the outcry of justice against my sins. I was at that moment considering how the old church fathers referred to this gracious provision of God as an “alien righteousness”.

It seemed to me that my little alien friend provided the perfect illustration. An otherwise ordinary beetle, but decked out in the colours of Christmas. So for me: one of Adam’s fallen race, but by faith decked out in the colours of Christmas and Easter, that is, the righteous and redeeming works of Jesus Christ – that alien righteousness, sourced from outside myself, received by faith, and the best Christmas gift that one could ever have.

DM 31st December 2019


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