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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Before Paradise
By Edmond Ng


    And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:43 NAS)
In a 1967 episode of the sci-fi TV series Star Trek titled ‘This Side of Paradise,’ a story was told of starship USS Enterprise arriving at a planet called Omicron Ceti III, a Federation colony. The mission was to evacuate all the colonists from the planet which has been bombarded by cosmic rays for several years. What the starship crew discovered, however, was a thriving community in perfect health with no desire to leave their home. Unknowingly, they were actually under the influence of plant spores which were keeping them in good health and in a placid state of happiness and contentment.

Under the spell of the spores, starship first officer Spock, a half extraterrestrial humanoid known for not expressing emotions, responded to the love of an old friend, Leilani. All the starship crew members eventually also became affected by the plant spores except for Jim Kirk, the captain of the starship. In his attempt to return his crew members to sanity, Kirk provoked and stirred up strong emotions in Spock to restore him to his senses. Once Spock recovered, he created a device to send subsonic frequency through the crew’s communicators, which irritated them enough to end the spores’ influence.

Like the Star Trek's story of a paradise that promises happiness and contentment, the Bible also mentioned of a place where there shall be no tears or sorrow (Revelation 21:3-4). The word ‘paradise,’ according to an article at Keyway.ca, is derived from the Greek word paradeisos, which originated from an ancient Persian term meaning wooded park. This word is found only three times in the New Testament in most Bible translations (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:4; Revelation 2:7), referring once to God’s abode in heaven, and twice to the future Kingdom of God on earth.

Where exactly is the paradise mentioned in the Bible has been discussed by many people with varied conclusions. Some suggest it is not where God dwells, but a place in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:3-4). Others say it is the Garden of Eden or one like it since ‘paradise’ in Hebrew means a fenced garden (Genesis 3:23-24). What is important to know, however, is simply this—paradise is where our Lord is present. So long as we are in His presence, we need not fear where we will be. The way to paradise is to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Luke 23:42-43; John 14:6). For as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

In the meantime, before we meet our Lord face to face, let us not forget there remains on this side of paradise a mission we have yet to fulfill. Who will be in the presence of our Savior depends on us bringing them to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). Just as Captain Jim Kirk in the Star Trek story knew what had to be done while on this side of ‘paradise,’ as believers of the Lord we ought also to know our mission here on earth. Like Kirk who provoked Spock to stir up strong emotions, let us also seek to challenge ourselves and our fellow believers to do our part in the Great Commission. Unlike the device which sends subsonic frequency to irritate the crew into recovery, however, let us not irritate but gently encourage and nudge one another to action by showing them the right direction.

Rather than be influenced by the ‘spores’ and enticement of this world, let us put to death our earthly entanglements and lay aside the love and draw of this world (Hebrews 12:1). Remember always to take up the shield of faith to defend by the word of God against the ‘cosmic rays’ and bombardment of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). Let us be shrewd, that we may not fall prey or under a spell to vices created to mislead us (Matthew 10:16; 24:11-13).

Remind us dear Lord of our mission here on earth while waiting to see You face to face some day. Help us not be influenced by the ‘spores’ of this world Lord that we may not be misled into believing the lies of the evil one. Stir our hearts Lord that we may encourage and challenge one another to fulfill Your call to the Great Commission.

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Member Comments
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Leola Ogle 07/21/11
This would make an excellent sermon, particularly to youth!Great writing! God bless!
Robert Johnson07/22/11
Great job of turning a Star Trek episode into a parable. I was immediately grabbed as this was one of my favorite episodes of the old series when I was a kid. It provided a great visual for the message you were trying to get across and you crafted it in such a way that I think even a non-trekie would get it. I think you could have jazzed up the title a little more, but otherwise, great piece!
Linda Goergen07/25/11
So many good nuggets of truth in here to ponder! I too remember that episode of Star-Trek and I love how you have taken its vision and transformed it into a spiritual lesson! My favorite line within this though is: “paradise is where our Lord is present”…I had said the same earlier on another comment here…so true! I enjoyed the prayer at the end of this also! Good job!
Edy T Johnson 07/25/11
"What is important to know, however, is simply this—paradise is where our Lord is present." My favorite line - How exciting to know that He is everywhere present! (Psalm 139) Then, our exciting assignment is to be the lamp that brings the Light of the world so those in darkness can SEE that fact for themselves. What a precious assignment we have been given!
diana kay07/26/11
interesting.... I wonder if a modern version of this type of Sci Fi would look to some happy pills for the same reaction or some food additives :-) I like the way you made this understandable for everyone and did not presume all your readers were Trekkies.could be a winner? i reckon the judges will love this
Laury Hubrich 07/26/11
I watched this episode of Star Trek to spark an idea for my entry. Didn't work:) I love how you tied it into yours, though. Good job.
Noel Mitaxa 07/26/11
Not having seen many Star Trek episodes, I might 'star trek'ing my credibility by presuming any close insights. But I like how you have woven parallels fromm the series into strong bible truths. I see a touch of CS Lewis' novels, and Harold Myra's "No Adam in Eden," which carry similar thoughts. Well done.
Kim Hamlin07/27/11
Never thought I'd see a Star Trek episode turned into a parable, but you succeeded, great job!
Noel Mitaxa 07/28/11
Congratulations on your placing. Well done.
Theresa Santy 07/28/11
Love this presentation of the topic. Congratulations on your placing.