To Serve Man
One of the first TV shows I ever fell in love with was The Twilight Zone. I’ve always loved weird stories – stories of worlds that were almost – but not quite – like our own. From the creepy music and Rod Sterling’s iconic introduction to the inevitable twist at the end of each episode, that show is A+ storytelling like few other shows that have ever been made.
Maybe it’s because I’ve always loved science fiction, but one of my favorite episodes is called To Serve Man. In it, some aliens come to earth and give us gifts – infinite energy, enough food for everyone, etc. They essentially create world peace in a matter of days. Earth is suddenly a paradise, a new utopia.
Life is so good, no one thinks to question the motivations except for a linguist named Lloyd. He’s sure there’s no such thing as a free lunch, that the aliens must have a hidden agenda. He and his team set out to translate the alien language by using a manual the aliens all carry around with them.
After months, they manage to translate the title: To Serve Man.
Of course that only makes him seem crazier. See?, everyone tells him, they just want to serve us! Soon, the aliens announce a cultural exchange – they’re going to take a few choice humans back to their planet. Lloyd, more suspicious than ever, manages to get on the exchange. It’s only once they’re hurtling through space toward the alien homeworld that Lloyd manages to translate the first page of To Serve Man.
He reveals to his friends – and to the viewer – the horrifying truth: it’s a cook book!
That’s super creepy, isn’t it? The aliens’ gifts were too good to be true. They were treating us like cattle, keeping us fat and happy so they could use us, consume us. It was never about what’s best for us, only what’s best for them.
The reason this story works is because we have a sneaking suspicion that the reality of this story is the reality of the world we live in – that everyone has a hidden agenda. Every gift comes with strings attached. The basic rule of reality is look out for #1 – which means that every relationship is ultimately about what I get out of it.
Well. Easter marks the culmination of God’s greatest gift to the world: life, hope, a future. But how we can be sure God isn’t somehow just like those Twilight Zone aliens? How can we be sure God’s gifts are real?