Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The Noah Problem

Yesterday, I introduced what I called "The Moses Problem" - the fear that the other believers won't believe that God is behind your hair-brained scheme. The fear that other believers won't believe that God really sent you or that He's doing what you claim He's doing. 

As I reflected on that post, I realized that it might be tempting to confuse The Moses Problem with some of the troubles and resistance that other biblical characters came up against. Most notably, I started think about Noah - the character we most associate with being considered crazy by the rest of the world. 

But there is a fundamental difference between The Moses Problem and what we could, I guess, call The Noah Problem, and this is something we have to pay attention to. 

Moses was sent to the people of God and experienced resistance from those who had every reason to hope, at least, that God was going to free them, even if they didn't quite believe it. He was sent to those who had a relationship with the Lord and who were living in His favor in the lush land of Goshen, rescued from a famine and provided for. 

Noah, on the other hand, was a lone wolf in a broken world. We know that the persons around him didn't believe in what he was doing. We know they laughed at him. We know they mocked him, right up until the doors of that boat closed and the rain began to fall. But these were not a people who had a relationship with God; Noah's resistance came from the world. 

Two sides of a similar, but very different, coin. 

In a lot of ways, I think it's easier for us to have Noah's problem. I think it's easier for us to come up against a world that we know doesn't believe. It's easier for us to look at them and say, well, you just don't get it. It's easy for us to say, I'll pray for you. It's easy for us to think that whatever crazy thing we're following God into is going to be a witness to the world; it's going to be the thing that helps them finally get it. And even if it isn't...well, we're the ones safe and dry in the boat. 

It's a lot harder, I think, for us to have Moses's problem. It's harder for us to experience resistance from the church. It's harder for us to go to our fellow believers, be shot down, and still believe in the thing God has made so clear to us. 

How do you keep moving forward when someone else who loves God just as much as you do doesn't get it?

In times like these, we're tempted to start questioning ourselves. To start questioning whether God really said what we thought He said. Maybe these other believers have more wisdom or discernment than we have. Maybe they've been following God longer. Maybe they have more experience with these sorts of things. Then, we start to wonder if maybe we haven't put God's voice in our own heads and simply called it His. 

All of these questions start to swirl in our minds, and sometimes, it doesn't matter if our staff becomes a snake, if our skin becomes leprous, if water becomes blood if the people of God - the very folks who ought to at least share our hope, even if they don't share our vision or our faith - don't believe God has really sent us to do this. 

The easy thing to do is to think we have Noah's problem - to look at our fellow believers and disfellowship them, accuse them of being the world, and like Jesus, declare, "Get behind me, Satan!" We write them off as wolves in sheep's clothing, as apostates, as whatever so that we don't have to deal with the pushback. 

But the truth is - we have Moses's problem, not Noah's. These are our brothers and sisters. And that changes how we have to deal with it. 

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