Millennia ago, an alien landed on Earth. His arrival went largely unnoticed in this pre-Twitter era, partly due to his picking a remote province as a landing spot. Very few saw the landing: a few astronomers near modern Baghdad saw lights in the sky, and some local farm-hands reported seeing lights and hearing a sound like singing.
This alien arrived looking just like a human, and he was adopted into a simple peasant family whom he chose specifically for this purpose. They were good, kind, humble people--and they raised him as one of their own. He grew up with at least six brothers and sisters, and lived in secret among everyone for thirty years.
Oh sure, every now and then weird things happened. He knew things that people his age didn't know: even as a child, he could argue with the best philosopher of his day and leave the man tongue-tied and astonished. But for the most part he kept his head down and fit in.
Then, for some reason, he decided to change all of that. He spent thirty years hiding among us--for what purpose? to learn our ways? for recon? who knows? Now, as his human host-body reaches physical maturity and middle age, this ages-old alien decides to begin to act.
He starts journeying around, delivering a terrible message: he and his people have tested humans and found them unworthy to continue to live. One day his people will arrive and, when they do, they will destroy the earth and make it habitable for them. He tells little about his natural race except that they cannot die, and live in peace and harmony with each other. But having lived among the humans for decades, the alien can confirm that no human--not even one--is capable of being peaceful enough to survive in the new society which will come.
His people--the Sons of El--are laughably more powerful than us, and there is no way we can hold them back. They are going to take Earth from us and reform it--and even space around us--into a new utopia which will last forever. And we can do nothing to stop it.
To prove his power, he performs actions which seem to us nearly magical: defying the laws of physics in a hundred ways, from multiplying matter to changing his buoyancy at will to altering weather patterns at a wave of his hand to curing incurable diseases.
But, he claims to be no villain. He does not wish any human to have to suffer the fate of missing out on this New Earth. So he offers us an option, calling it good news: if we are willing to give up our identities, he can put a virus inside each of us. This virus will slowly but surely transform us out of our human mindset and make us into alien Sons of El, just like him.
There is no middle ground he offers us: we must either accept the virus and be transformed, or fight against him and, eventually, die. Not unlike the Borg, our choice is to be assimilated or to perish. A few choose to follow him, but not the majority.
The majority of humans around him do not take to this offer kindly. They like their lives and their world and their freedom. So they capture him. They torture him. His followers are scattered in fear. They kill him.
Or so they thought.
His host body died, it is true. But not the alien himself. The alien rebuilds the host body and destroys the tomb which holds him. He appears to hundreds, telling them that the decision is made. The future is coming. He is going to leave and return to his home. One day he and the Sons of El will return...and when they do, they are taking over the planet and transforming it.
In the meantime, he gives his followers a mission: sign up followers. The invitation is still open to all. Any human who is willing to give up their individual freedom and be transformed will have it. He will put the virus into them and let it begin to work on them, changing every cell of their DNA, so that when he returns and builds New Earth, they will be a part of the Sons of El who live and rule there.
That is the choice before us. Assimilate, or perish. Is life eternal worth giving up individual freedom? Is never tasting death worth allowing an alien virus to come in and totally change your personality and behavior?
This story is, of course, our story. If this were a Hollywood movie--and there have been many like it!--the alien would be seen as the bad guy. Those who gave in to his demands would be seen as weak, foolish, slaves: willingly giving up their freedom in order to take on a bondage to someone else.
But that is exactly what Christians do. The alien above is, of course, Jesus: God Himself, creator of all, the Son of the Father God (El). He came down and took up human flesh, and taught a radical theology: that He would bring back upon His return a new heaven and earth, completely replacing this one.
Those who join Him die to their human, worldly lives and will live forever. But while we are still "us," we have this virus inside--the Holy Spirit--who spreads throughout us, searching us day by day deeply and intimately, breaking down the things that He does not like and replacing them with the personality and attitude appropriate for a son of God.
Sanctification--the process by which we are made holy--is best represented by a virus: it enters and spreads rapidly, changing you on a level you cannot even see, driving you into new behaviors. Some viruses drive you to vomiting or fever: the Holy Spirit destroys (slowly but surely) your selfishness, your political views, your attitude, your personality, your hatred, your sensual desires. It spreads throughout you and changes you radically until what is left is still you...but a very, very different you. A child-of-the-light you. A son-of-God you. A pray-for-those-who-wish-to-hurt-us you. Not unlike the book The Host, you have two personalities within you...the natural "you" and the alien "you"--and eventually they will merge and the alien you will be the dominant personality.
What, then, is salvation? It is nothing more or less than the willingness to take in the virus--the willing acceptance of the shot which injects the virus into you. Once you accept it, the virus WILL transform you into the alien righteous being: the only question is how long it will take. Will you fight it and slow down the spread of the infection? Or will you get out of the way, placing to the side your worldly desires and philosophies, and allow it to spread throughout you and make you into the "you" that El has planned?