Standing out for God

9These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, who was perfect in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10And Noah fathered three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. 11Now the earth became corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence. 12And God saw that the earth was corrupt, because all flesh had corrupted its behavior upon the earth. — Genesis 6:9-12

Yesterday I had a bit to say about unworthiness. We generally wouldn’t think of Noah as unworthy, but besides all of his great accomplishments, we have the story of the downhill slide that started immediately amongst his sons. I can imagine how that slide would feel to a man who “walked with God.”

Jody and I were attending an expo and showing our books. A gentleman approached our booth and handed us his card and some literature on his services. It turned out he was not actually an exhibitor, but was simply going through the displays in order to advertise his own services for publishers. Since there were numerous publishers represented, it was a good networking opportunity for him.

He was unable to stick with salesmanship. As is inevitable when Christians gather, even for business, the discussion turned to theology. It turned out that he had a rather considerable agenda. Though he refrained from going there directly, it became apparent that he was not happy with Jody’s role as an author and teacher. Even more, he wondered if my authors were “in charge of their own households.” He wondered the same thing of me. Were my children active in my business? Were they being groomed to be successors. He boasted of how in his home church anyone whose children were not up to standard were removed from leadership.

Before I managed to get rid of him—and that’s precisely how I felt—he had managed to convince me that I wouldn’t want to be a member of his church, use his business services, nor would I recommend either to anyone else. I’ll take imperfect people building their lives on and with God’s grace any day over the allegedly perfect church led by men with their wives under control and their perfect children.

Yet many of us reflect at least parts of this man’s thinking in reverse. How can I pray for healing when I have loved ones who are ill? How can I lead the church when I am struggling with my own children? How can I be a light in the workplace when I am so far short of perfect?

I’m reminded of the saying that the ideal is often the enemy of the good. Because we are not perfectly equipped for some task at home, in our church, or at our workplace, we refuse, even though the call (and thus the grace!) is there. We don’t know how—we think—to listen and to help someone, so we avoid them and don’t even try. Our love is imperfect, so we’re afraid to show it.

But God has an answer to our inadequacies. Noah walked with God. Noah provided salvation for his world. He may not have been perfect, but he simply followed God. Genesis 6:22 summarizes it: “And Noah did according to all that God commanded him.”

That was how he stood out for God.

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