Lessons from an Alien Life Form

So what do you do in the evenings when you are home bound during the Covid-19 crisis for weeks. You binge watch TV shows. I can think of no more appropriate show to watch than ALF sitcoms. He is the funny little alien from Melmac who crash landed in the Tanner family’s garage. He had to stay with them for the four years the sitcom ran. The Tanners hid him from the Alien Task Force. This short, hairy, big-nosed extraterrestrial creature said and did the craziest things that drove the Tanner family crazy. His catch phrase was “Haaa! I kill me.”

Although I did not have a TV in the late eighties when the series first ran I was always curious about the show. First, why did they call him ALF when his name was Gordon Shumway? ALF, I learned, was an acronym. But for what? The American Leadership Forum or the Abundant Life Fellowship or Animal Liberation Front or Acute liver failure or Automated Laser Fluorescence. No. In fact it stood for Alien Life Form. However, Assisted Living Facility would work, since he had to be supported by the Tanner family.

Christians have a lot in common with ALF. We are citizens of another place, Heaven. This world is not our home. We cannot fit into the rest of this world. We long to go home one day. Our ways seem odd or strange to others. Peter said, “…they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:4).

One thing ALF had to change is his fleshly appetite. He loved to eat cat back on his home planet of Melmac. Once he tried to hypnotize Lucky, the Tanner family’s pet cat, saying, “ You are getting sleepy. You… are no longer a cat. You are a bagel.” When he learned that the Tanners were going to go see the musical Cats, ALF pleaded, “Take me, please! Then afterwards, we can go backstage and eat the actors!” Willie, the dad, told ALF, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” He replied, “So, you’ve been looking at my recipe book.” ALF believed “the only good cat is a stir-fried cat.” The number one rule in the Tanner home for ALF was “we don’t eat members of the family.”

Once we become Christians are lustful appetites must be controlled. “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:1-3).

ALF was always getting distracted by the wrong priorities. Willie asked ALF” “How long are you gonna keep this up?” He answered, “Well, in the words of Porky Pig ‘tha-tha-tha-tha-That’s all folks.’ Speaking of Porky, do I smell bacon?” Willie replied, “No.” “Well, I’d like to” came ALF’s not so subtle suggestion. He has a problem spending too much time watching television. He claimed to have super powers. Humans could only dream of like watching: “10 hours of TV, without ever getting up to go to the bathroom.” Then there were the times he knew exactly what should take priority in life. After one of the many times when he caught the kitchen on fire, he yelled, “Never mind the curtains, put me out!”

One of the first changes needed upon becoming a Christian is a reordering of our priorities. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:33-34).

ALF tended to be self-centered and selfish. This could be seen in the way he would spend the Tanner family money. He chastised Willie one day, “Are you gonna throw a hissy fit every time I squander a couple thousand dollars?” He also abused and misused the house hold items. Again he tells Willie, “Oh, by the way, don’t bother looking for your laxative on a rope.” Willie tries to correct ALF, “Oh, you mean my soap on a rope?” “Trust me on this one,” came ALF’s reply.

As citizens of the Kingdom, God’s children must learn to respect others. Jesus gave what is called the Golden Rule, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt 7:12). Paul wrote, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).

Watching ALF is not just Amusing, Ludicrous and Funny for entertainment, he provides Applicable Life Fundamentals for learning how not to live on earth among others.

— Daniel R. Vess

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Categories: The Forum