If you and I are going to grow in God-likeness, our hearts will also have to be broken over corruption and pollution.
Like the people of Noah’s day, it’s easy to become inured when the culture all around us not only dismisses corruption, but celebrates it, not only dismisses pollution but justifies it. We become used to taking what isn’t right in our stride, making excuses and rationales for it in our own lives, just as the rest of our society is doing in their lives. We begin to expect dysfunctional habits, thoughts, emotions, ways of coping with a broken and perverse world, exploitative strategies to get our objectives accomplished, other people’s selfishness and self-centeredness in relationships, and so on.
Being counter cultural, particularly on this issue of right and wrong, good and evil, is a risky, difficult proposition. We will find ourselves having to explain our story to an often hostile and suspicious audience. We may find ourselves misunderstood, on occasion, mocked, shunned, taken advantage of, maybe even victimized and reviled. Faith in action requires patient perseverance, and a rock-solid belief that, suffering to the contrary, if this is what God is asking of us, the only right thing to do is to keep doing it, to ask forgiveness when we falter, and to ask for God’s supernatural strength through His Spirit within us.
This is no less true for the church. As the Body of Christ, we are to be vulnerable and transparent with each other because we have worked hard to make the Body a safe place to be our true selves with each other; because we are striving together to be the living illustration of Jesus’ love and grace; because we know that it is really sin which kills and God’s cleansing which brings life.
Doing this gets even tougher when we aren’t all on the same page about what actually -is- right or wrong, good or bad, faithful or faithless and so on. I fall back on the idea that we know already we’re going to make mistakes, so better to err on the side of love, mercy and grace, than on the side of condemnation, judgment, and contempt as we try to hammer out something we all can agree on.
Over the years, I have listened to people wonder out loud whether the Lord is returning soon.
Don’t the times seem evil, they say, doesn’t it seem like these are the days of Noah? But, how can they be? Has the world really reached a place of such desperate evil that only eight people are left to save? Is our today comparatively worse than, say, the era of the World Wars? Or the days of the despotic Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero? There is no question evil abounds. But are these really like the days of Noah?
Jesus told believers to be both observant and ready, without trying to pinpoint the time of His return. Noah and his family carried themselves in just such a way for over a hundred years, not knowing exactly when the Flood would come until the day it was to happen.
We know Jesus will return in glory. In the meantime, we are to walk faithfully with God, listening for His voice, responding to His word with reverence, and patiently persevere.
In the same way Noah and his family had trouble, so Jesus explained all believers will have trouble in this world.
Jesus indicated the world will hate believers, because the world hates the Lord Jesus Christ. But fear not, Jesus said, for I have overcome the world. Later, Peter would explain to the beleaguered believers scattered throughout the diaspora, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”
We are to expect this kind of trouble, because there are two currents of life, the Way of Cain, and the Way of Seth (Jesus), flowing in opposite directions. Wherever these two currents intersect, there will be troubled waters.
Because we know this is inevitable, we cope by reminding ourselves we are participating in a real and visceral way in the Lord’s experience. It is in an honor to follow in His footsteps, and a good sign we are on the right path. It is not for nothing! One day, we know without a doubt, His glory will be revealed, whether that be upon His glorious return, or that be in His display of His glory within us as we continue to live by faith.
To a certain extent, all of the people of that day experienced God’s grace for a while, because there was time between God’s pronouncement of judgment and the actual destruction of the world.
All during that time Noah was building the ark in plain view, and teaching everyone about the coming Flood. That was an era of grace. Such an era exists today, as well, beginning from the time Jesus rose from the dead and continuing to the day He returns.
Just as Noah lived counter culturally, doing work that made no sense to others, and creating a financial sacrifice for the whole family
Just as Noah and his family were daily occupied with God’s work, and took time to explain not only what they were doing but why
Just as Noah believed God though he did not see the Flood forming, and had no point of reference to understand just how wicked his world had become
…that is how the church is called to be today.
The church is countercultural. It should be a place notably different than the rest of the world, in how we do things, what things we do, how we interact with each other, and what voices we listen to.
We, as the Body of Christ, are to be specially attuned to God’s voice, God’s direction, and about God’s work, explaining to all what we are doing and why.
Not for their sake, or even our own. But for God’s sake, that He might have His people saved from ruin.