Jesus had a circle. We call them the disciples. Jesus chose a circle to influence the world.
In the Gospels (the stories of Jesus in the New Testament), we see Jesus talking to all sorts of people: crowds, religious leaders, and even “sinners and tax collectors.” But some of the most powerful exchanges and teaching moments came with his circle of 12. Instead of giving his time to the masses of people in the crowd, the most impacting and lasting ministry of Jesus endures through the witness of the small group that he led and shared life with. Jesus changed the world with 12 people.
When an elevator opens up you see a group of people in it. You always have to decide if you are going to squeeze in…or wait. There are only so many people who can fit in an elevator. Right?
You have a circle. Your circle changes throughout your life. People come and go, and hopefully, you have enjoyed the journey.
The influence of the few, rather than the crowds in your life, have made a lasting difference.
So who is the Noah in your circle? Noah’s radical faith and vision for the activity of God prevented the destruction of all mankind. We have outer circles and inner circles: acquaintances and dear friends. I want to invite you to expand your circle and invite someone in that you’ve heard of; he gets mentioned every once in a while, and he mostly “floats around” in the Sunday school curriculum. This guy, we all need someone like him. His name is Noah—and he’s strange.
In Genesis 6:13-17, we read, “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish.’”
The author of Hebrews wrote in 11:7, “By faith Noah responded with godly fear when he was warned about events he hadn’t seen yet. He built an ark to deliver his household.” With his faith, he criticized the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes from faith.
There are at least three reasons why you need a “Noah” in your circle.
- We need someone who is talking to and hearing from God in a way that you find hard to believe. Finding and listening to a “Noah” is a reminder that there is a part of our faith that needs to be challenged to understand the profound personal nature of life in the Spirit. The presence of a radically irrational believer fertilizes and energizes our own personal walk. Noah’s personal faith was mesmerizing. He took 120 years to build a boat on the premise that God was going to flood the world. That’s weird. That should push us to listen differently to things. How do you respond when you meet other believers who might talk or act differently than you? Who is a modern day Noah you can think of? No – not the people building replica arks – but people in your life who are so trusting it makes you feel uncomfortable?
- We need to have someone in our life who is doing a great thing for the kingdom. Do you know and relate with anyone who has turned their back on the things of this world? What would it look like to get that person across the table from you? (This is not to say that you’re not doing things, but rather that you might be inspired to get into the deep end yourself.) Noah’s life work was dedicated to saving the world.
- You need someone in your life who is routinely ridiculed for his or her faith. Noah was derided for his plan. You may not know a lot of these people, but they’re important. Why? A lot of what we do is important but relatively “safe.” The world isn’t giving us a hard time for feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, or taking care of the poor. Where we get laughed at and ridiculed is when we talk about supernatural relationships—about God and resurrection and things that seem ridiculous to unbelievers.
Where in your faith journey do you play it safe? How might your life look different if you exhibited Noah’s radical faith?
Make room for Noah at the table. Listen to him pray. Ask him how the building of the boat is going. Ask him how he copes with the ones who laugh in his face. Let his life, his passion, and his courage shape you. Then, this week, take one step in moving from your comfort zone to exhibiting radical faith. You are called to do great things for the kingdom.
Gracious God, give us a courageous faith that would challenge us for the sake of your kingdom. We thank you for the Noah’s in our lives, that while they might make us uncomfortable, they inspire us to go beyond ourselves. Give us such faith, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.