The other night at our home group we talked about Noah and the ark. Talk about a Bible story that everybody knows but not many really take the time to truly think about. I’m not quite sure why people paint murals of Noah and the ark on children’s walls, because if you really take a look at the story, it is one of the most terrible things that has happened in the history of the world. Everyone on earth died except for one family. What an incredible tragedy, but this story truly shows a stark contrast between sinfulness and righteousness.
I was praying this morning and God revealed something in my life that I would so much rather he wouldn’t have. He showed me that I think about and aim to please others more than I aim to please Him. Ouch. It was an interesting revelation, especially at the place in life I am in, because there is not a huge difference between the two. I am a missionary, and when I do the things of God, I generally please those I work with. God truly showed me, however, that what I am doing is not wrong, but the intent of my heart is off target. There may come a point in time when God may ask me to do something that doesn’t necessarily bring me praise and may seem a bit odd. If it doesn’t aid in boosting people’s opinions of me, will I still so willfully obey God? That is a tough question that we are talking through.
The story of Noah is so fascinating to me for several reasons. Probably the thing that jumps out at me the most is how in Genesis 6:9b, it says: “Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” Can you imagine being the ONLY person who is following God in the whole entire world? It’s one thing to be a missionary in a country whose religion is different than yours. It’s another thing entirely to be the oooooooonly person alive who has a relationship with God. This Scripture says that Noah not only had a relationship with God, but that he walked in close fellowship with God. They were best buddies. They were so close that when God decided that the sin in the world was so great that maybe He should wipe it clean and start over, He devised a plan for Noah and his family to survive.
There are some questions that I have to ask myself after reading this story: Could I truly stand alone? Is my relationship with God so personal to me that I could walk in close fellowship with Him even when everyone around me lived in rebellion to Him? Would I obey God’s crazy request to build a giant boat because God told me it was going to rain and I had no idea what rain actually was? Here is the absolute question of my heart: Does God call me righteous?
When I think about righteousness, I tend to think about people who are truly good. I think about people who have sacrificed much to do great things. However, righteous is not something one person calls another person; it is something God calls His friend. Could I believe that righteousness isn’t defined by good actions, but by the type of relationship I have with God? You see, Noah wasn’t said to be righteous because he built the ark; he was called righteous before it was ever recorded that he did anything. It’s not like God took a microphone to the world and said, “Hey everyone, it’s gonna rain. Anyone wanna build a boat?” And Noah didn’t step up and say, “Oh, pick me!” God wanted to save Noah and his family BECAUSE of his righteousness.
This seems like such an elementary concept until we take it to our own lives and turn on a microscope. What is the driving reason for our existence? If having a deep relationship with God displeased the person I wish to please the most, would I still JUST AS WHOLEHEARTEDLY do it? Would I still seek God’s face with the same amount of fervor and passion?
I want to be respected and admired, and I have a bit of a competitive spirit, so sometimes I want to be respected and admired more than the people around me. If someone else is getting attention for something, I am thinking about what I can do to get attention for something too. God has really been working on this bad attitude on my heart for a while, showing me how once again, my righteousness is not defined by what I do and has nothing to do with how others see me. Even the most wonderful Christian I know doesn’t have to think anything of me. My righteousness is between God and me. Period. Exclamation point. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.
Do I seek God’s favor above anything else? Do I only seek His favor? What does God say about me? Tough questions. How about you?