Being a missionary to my Jewish people for 6+ years in New York City from 2003-2009 was a remarkable experience. It was a privilege be salt and light in a place very much in need of salt and light.
Street outreach was a normal part of my weekly routine. Standing on the streets of New York City handing out gospel tracts while donning a t-shirt that says ‘Jews for Jesus’ will evoke a variety of responses as you might imagine.
During that missionary stint I also had the privilege of doing street evangelism in other cities across America – including Phoenix, Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
One common thread of understanding unfolded while doing street outreach – I realized I was standing out in a crowd, or in other words, being ‘counter-culture.’
As believers, we all understand to one degree or another, that we are counter-culture, for God’s Kingdom is much different than the world’s kingdom. For we are in the world, yet not of the world (John 17:14, 1 John 2:15). In fact, this world is not our home – we are strangers in a strange land – we’re just passing through (John 15:18-19, Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 11:13, 1 Peter 2:11).
Noah certainly lived a ‘counter-culture’ life in his day. This reality is highlighted by the striking contrast between the culture of the day with the life of Noah (Genesis 6:5-9):
Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.
As we see evil rising around our country and around the world, Noah is a great example to us of a life committed to walking with God.
Noah Fulfilled God’s Calling
When God commanded him to build an ark to save he and his family from the flood, Noah obeyed (Genesis 6:13-22).
We can only imagine how his neighbors and others around Noah responded to his faithful commitment in building the ark over that 120-year time frame. Could there have been derision pointed in his direction? I wonder if people pressured him to quit the work they may have perceived as ‘nonsense.’ Is it possible Noah could have felt lonely at times as he faithfully pressed on in obedience while the crowd around him went on their merry way?
While Noah’s faith was heroic in one sense, as he’s listed in the ‘Hall of Faith’ in Hebrews 11, it was also a witness of condemnation for those who rejected this ‘preacher of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2:5):
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7)
Noah followed the Lord when it wasn’t PC. He walked with God when it was difficult, when it was unpopular.
As we think about our own lives and witness today, the life of Noah should instruct and inspire. In today’s morally-disintegrating culture, the Lord’s call on our lives to ‘be holy as He is holy’ remains.
The Lord’s call on our lives to His witnesses and ‘Ambassadors of Reconciliation’ also remains.
Remember, the light shines brightest in the darkest of places. The Apostle Paul knew this well as he reminded the believers in Philippi:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:12-15)
As we seek to shine the light of Christ in an ever-darkening world, may we remember the ark was both an act of faith by Noah and an act of God’s grace – Noah was saved by God’s grace through his faith, the same way we all are today.
For Jesus is the Ark of Salvation for anyone who will trust in Him. And that’s good news.
So go forth as Noah, fulfilling God’s call to shine the light and proclaim the good news amidst a culture desperately in need of light and good news found in the Ark of Salvation – Jesus!