It’s hard to be the loner. I mean, yeah, we romanticize the loner (think Wolverine or Batman), but the reality is this: Given the choice, very few of us would ever choose to be the loner. In a society and culture that places an assumed value on individuality, nonconformity, and uniqueness, we want all of those traits; but only if we can have them while still being loved by the crowd! Even those aforementioned heroes, we would only find it appealing to be them because they tend to be appreciated in their solitude. Replace Wolverine with someone you consider to be uncool, and suddenly, it isn’t so fun to be the loner, right?
That’s the position Noah found himself in. The entire world around him desired anything but the pleasing of God. For everyone not in Noah’s family, their goals were to fulfill only their own desires…
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
(Genesis 6:5 ESV)
I don’t know about you, but the words “only evil continually” should raise concern. I mean, I couldn’t think about evil continually if I TRIED. Eventually, I would think about something good, like puppies, or my sweet kids, or my beautiful wife, none of which are evil. I would think about Clemson football, the Carolina Panthers, or the Charlotte Hornets (I’m being hopeful here). But the point is, I don’t think I could manage making every thought “only evil continually.”
With that in mind, think of what these people had to be like. Even conservatively, you have to think that if Noah had regular contact with them, he would constantly get his faith shoved in his face. I mean, we do today, and most people don’t think “only evil continually.” For Noah, it must have been extremely difficult to go through that. Let’s put it into Noah’s perspective here:
- You are 600 years old.
- You are NOT a shipwright.
- You live somewhere where there is no large body of water.
- You are building this giant boat because God told you to do so.
- Nobody else but you really likes God.
I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty daunting. I can’t say for certain how I would react, but my best guess is that it would get to me at some point, on some level. I look at my life now, without any of those things happening, and I find that sometimes I’m affected by the opinions of those around me. I tend to be less vocal in condemning abortion when I’m around someone who believes its ok, so that I will be less offensive to them and hopefully show them that I too, am intelligent, thought I am a fundamentalist. Or for a less hot button topic, I tend to be far less critical of people who I know are doing sinful things when they are friends, or if I want their approval. I’m saying this so that we can all see just how difficult this could have been for Noah. It’s hard to be the loner, much more so when being the loner is the uncool option. To put this in a better perspective, this would be like an alternate universe full of evil Wolverines and you are the lone nice person, like Professor Xavier without the cool mental powers. Not so fun, now, is it?
But, in spite of all of the difficulty, Noah stands for God! When I’m sure he had no support from his community, and no one to rally behind him, Noah did the right thing! How unlike what we are probably all used to! For Noah, being a man of God meant standing against the world.
See, without the benefit of scripture, Noah knew something. What he knew was this: Being a Man of God eventually requires you to stand against what the World wants from you, because your goals are entirely different from the World’s goals FOR YOU. And in order to drive the point home, Jesus felt the need to reiterate when speaking to His disciples…
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
(John 15:18-21 ESV)
Jesus’ words should serve two purposes. One, it should be an encouragement to us. When we are being persecuted for being a Man/Woman of God, it should remind us that we aren’t the first. As we have been hated for the truth, so has God Himself. And so, we can take comfort in the fact that our God knows our trials, has chosen us OUT of the world, and is there for us.
But, it should also serve another purpose. It should serve as a warning to us, as well. We aren’t SUPPOSED to fit with the world. The values that are of the world are not our values. We as Christ followers should not allow the culture to conform us, but we should be change agents in the culture. Too often, we are changed by the surroundings. Had Noah done the same thing, the story would have ended far differently. So, take a good look at your life. If it seems that the world is very agreeable to you, then that may be a warning sign. If you are getting the approval of the world, it may be time to make sure you are seeking the right approval. Because getting the popular vote here on earth is probably not the best strategy to put into place in regards to eternity. If we are going to be Men and Women of God, we have to see what Noah saw, which was something along this line:
Noah saw a promise in following God, a fulfillment in having relationship with the maker and lover of our souls that was so powerful, it was enough to give him the strength necessary to live as a man against the World.