I am not a fan of heights. When I get on an airplane (something I haven’t done in months due to the pandemic), I always try to sit on the aisle. After the plane takes off, I read a book and pretend we’re on the ground until we are.
As a result, I won’t be the first (or last) to welcome this headline: “Company plans space tourism flights in high-altitude balloon.”
A company called Space Perspective plans to operate “Spaceship Neptune” from leased facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Their huge hydrogen-filled balloon will carry eight passengers at a time on a six-hour flight. These hardy souls will climb to an altitude of about thirty miles, then descend to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. There a recovery ship will secure the cabin and crew.
Thirty miles may not sound like much, but it’s nearly twice as high as the supersonic Concorde once flew. (The typical airplane flies at 5.9 to 7.2 miles high.) Passengers will be above 99 percent of our planet’s atmosphere. And they will “enjoy” (according to the article) “two hours at peak altitude, taking in the view through large, wrap-around windows.”
Test flights carrying scientific research payloads are planned for next year. The first flights carrying passengers are expected within the next three-and-a-half years, after piloted test flights are completed. The company is planning “all kinds of live events” and claims that Neptune will be “the best place to get married, ever.”
My dislike of heights and the power of the Spirit
The announcement reminds us that not everything in the world is for everyone. I just purchased a new history of philosophy I’m excited to read, but I’m not sure everyone reading this post would share my enthusiasm. By contrast, billboards in my community are advertising an upcoming concert by Alice Cooper; they’ll have to go on without me.
The challenge is deciding what is opinion and what is imperative in our post-truth relativistic culture. I would no more insist that Alice Cooper fans share my enthusiasm for classical music than I would want them to make me go with them to his concert. But I want them to believe the Bible to be God’s authoritative word and trust his Son as their Savior, whatever their musical tastes might be.
The problem is, many in our society see my insistence on biblical truth and salvation in Christ as merely an opinion with no more objective urgency than my taste in music or lack of enthusiasm for heights. They believe they are completely justified in dismissing my evangelistic claims as “just your truth.” As a result, they will live this life and the next without knowing the God who made them and loves them so passionately.
In our relativistic day, it’s hard to argue people into the kingdom, especially when they’re unwilling to have the argument. But if they see the relevance of God’s word and love in my life, they will be more likely to consider its relevance for their lives.
That’s why the “fruit of the Spirit” are so important to both our lives and our witness. In a culture where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are in short supply (Galatians 5:22–23), they are more obvious and powerful. When the Spirit is working in us, he can work through us.
Have you invited him to make himself visible in your life today?