When I lived in St. Louis during seminary a story came out that shocked the world…and that happened only a couple of miles from where I lived. Police found a young boy who had been missing and held captive for 4 years by monstrous man who worked in the area. As shocking as the details were than surfaced during the ongoing investigation, nothing shocked everyone more than the reaction of the young boy. He did not seem to want to leave. Over his time as a captive, he had developed an allegiance to his captor…something that has come to be known as the Stockholm syndrome. It’s a weird reaction where those that have been taken captive end up loving and become devoted to their captors.
In an album a few years ago, singer-songwriter describes our struggle with sin the same terms. I think he’s right on! We have been taken captive by sin and instead of trying to flee from it we end up loving it.
In Genesis 6 we read that things have gotten as bad as they can get. It says that, “the intention of every heart was evil all the time”. Just think about what that would mean to follow every evil intention of your heart every time – chaos, violence! So God determines to put an end to it…to protect and preserve his promise of salvation through one man and his family. Noah finds favor (lit. “grace”) in the eyes of the Lord. Noah is not perfect, but he obeys…he builds the ark, loads everyone up, and is preserved in an unbelievable fashion, while the earth is cleansed of sin and its effects on creation.
What does this story tell us?
(1) We live under a huge threat: Sin requires God’s judgment- what God loves (His People and His Creation) has been corrupted! His judgment isn’t a haphazard reaction of an impatient deity…it is the zealous protection of his prized possession as a loving Father and King. Sin still seeks to master us if we do not resist it. When Jesus comes again, the New Testament tells us we will have another cleansing…this time not with water but with a far more powerful cleansing agent -fire. That is the seriousness of sin! It cannot be tolerated, it must be destroyed.
(2) God gives us a huge opportunity: God redeems in spite of sin. God forever remains faithful to his covenant promises. He destroys but he preserves. The rainbow in the sky is a sign of his mercy. God will have the last word. His warrior bow no longer points towards mankind, but now upwards twards himself…and we know that in Jesus he took the punishment and wrath once and for all for sin upon himself! God’s grace prevails! God creates salvation and gives us day to day opportunities to live in light of it. Noah and his family, still sinful, were given an opportunity. Genesis 9 speaks of God establishing seasons and natural structures that would curb sin and allow for righteousness to spread. Things would never again get as bad as they were before the flood. Still today, evangelism is the primary task of a Christian. We have the opportunity to bring the Gospel to bear in word, deed, and character in unprecedented ways…knowing that Jesus is coming again to restore that which he has started. If we give up the normal pursuits of life then where can we expect the world to go?
God has called us to be the solution. He has given us the responsibility. He calls us to be involved in the culture.
Sin in a huge threat but God has provided a huge opportunity through his saving and preserving grace for his Gospel to go forth as far as the curse is found.