One of the great privileges I have as Bishop of the Central District of the MCSA is that I get to be part of the induction services for ministers. These services are special times of celebrating the call on the lives of the people who are taking up positions in our District, and to remember that each of us is called by God. Recently, I preached about the calling of Noah at one of these induction services and about the righteousness, ridiculousness and redemption of his calling – and of each calling of God…
God called Noah because He was righteous in the midst of all the wickedness in the world. Does this mean Noah was perfect – no – (there was a drunken incident just a few chapters later – Genesis 9:22), but there was something in him that set him apart in his generation that made God able to use him in a powerful and mighty way. When we are righteous it means that we have surrendered and obedient hearts and lives ordered in a way that they are ready to follow where He leads and this positions us for being commissioned by God to do His redemptive work in the world.
Noah’s calling was a calling to the ridiculous. I don’t even want to think about how he worked out the practical logistics of getting all the animals sorted and what this actually involved. Who builds an ark in the middle of the desert anyway? The Middle East is not exactly a place in which people would understand building a ship of this size. Noah was most likely a laughing stock. But Scripture states so clearly and simply: “Noah did everything God commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22). Noah didn’t respond with a million questions (not that are recorded anyway), or complaints about how hard it was going to be. He responded with obedience, even though God’s request must’ve seemed totally absurd. The calling of God in each of our lives may take us to places that seem strange, or even ridiculous. From a worldly perspective, the decisions we make in pursuit of God’s call might often seem downright stupid. Paul writes about this same experience when he says in 1 Corinthians 4:10: “We are fools for Christ’s sake…” Sometimes, being obedient means being willing to do even the ridiculous for the sake of Jesus.
Noah’s call came because of righteousness, was rather ridiculous and was a call to a redemptive work. He was called to make a fresh start and a new beginning, to save his family and the animals from death. Each of us is called to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. He is making all things new. (Revelation 21:5). How are we joining Him in this work?
Noah’s story reminds me that all of us are called by God. We are all called to righteousness, to be different from the world and to stand out as holy and set apart; lights on a hill in a dark world. Sometimes, the calling of God seems ridiculous. It may seem too difficult, too strange, too risky, but it is a call to redemption – to bringing about new life, new hope and making the salvation of Jesus Christ a reality in our everyday realities. May we, like Noah, have the courage to follow that call.