The construction of Noah’s ark is a compelling picture – and one that could describe a common approach for evangelism in today’s world.
“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. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (Genesis 6:5-8) ESV
Let’s admit it.
For believers who have been set apart by God’s grace, redeemed by his completed work, justified by faith alone, and recently celebrated the truth of Jesus’ resurrection…
we tend to look at today’s world with contempt.
If only our grandfather could see what is going on, he would be shocked and horrified. Tears would fill his eyes with shame.
Our human nature causes us to shrug our shoulders in contempt and wait for God’s judgment.
I confess that I succumb to judgement and condemnation rather than proclaiming God’s forgiveness and repentance.
Building a giant ark doesn’t seem to be such a far-fetched idea.
And it seems that many churches are employing this approach to evangelism.
Maybe more than we care to admit.
“Let’s gather the redeemed and lock the doors right now, because the world is too far gone. Sin is too pervasive. People are no longer interested in hearing the gospel.”
When believers make judgement their business, they stop going out into the world to proclaim the gospel.
When believers pre-judge the soils of people’s hearts, they refrain from planting seeds.
The sobering truth is that judgment comes from grace-less hearts. We forget it was because of grace that God gave his son to die on the cross. It was grace that moved the stone so that we could see and proclaim, “He is risen!”
Jesus Christ didn’t build an ark during his earthly ministry and neither should we.
Jesus Christ was far too busy being a Good Shepherd frantically searching for the one lost sheep and so should we.
When Noah faithfully built a giant ark, I wonder if he worked with the idea of condemnation or grace? Was he thinking, “These people deserve death!” or “Thank you, Lord for rescuing my family because of your grace.”? Did he use the ark to engage his neighbors or to judge them? Did he use the ark to give a reason for the hope he had in God’s promises?
God isn’t asking believers to build arks, because that’s his business. He is the judge.
Instead, God is asking believers to build bridges, so that we may proclaim the message of grace with gentleness and respect. That is our business.
Believers are commissioned to deliver messages of repentance and deliverance to an unbelieving world, even though they will be snickered upon by an unbelieving generation. I’m sure Noah was snickered upon too.
With eyes on the cross – with gratitude for God’s grace – believers step out in faith to share their faith with others.
Noah built the ark because God asked him.
Believers proclaim the gospel, because God asks us.
We can pray, “Lord, when we are filled with doubt, fear, or concern, we can look to your perfect love to drive them out. We trust that you are in control of this world. You are the King of kings. Secure in your grace, confident in your promises, we can proclaim to others the wonderful truth of what you have already accomplished for us on the cross. Embolden us with your presence. Increase our trust. Open our eyes so that we can look at the fields and see what you see – a harvest that is plentiful. Thank you, Lord, for the privilege and honor to be your ambassadors in this unbelieving world that is hostile to you. For your glory, we deliver your message of Good News. In your name we pray. Amen.”