For The Greater Good

Faith“Just as it was in the days of Noah . . .” (see Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:37-39). We human beings really haven’t changed much over the centuries, even with all of our technological and scientific advances. We may think we are more sophisticated and civilized then our ancestors, and knowledge has certainly increased over time, but basic human nature hasn’t changed since Adam and Eve walked around in the Garden of Eden (see Adam and Eve, Fact or Fiction?), or apes if you prefer (see the Evolutionary Theory of Charles Darwin) depending on which “theory” you choose to believe in as to the origin of the human race. I personally prefer the former to the latter, and that takes faith in God (see 2 Cor. 5:7, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 11), and not the type of “faith in the inferiority of having faith” as stated by the New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins (see source quote here).

It takes faith to believe in God and in His Word (the Bible). And all the arguments in the world don’t hold a candle to faith in God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). It’s not about trying to win any argument, but believing that God is who He says He is, and that the whole of human creation and existence is wrapped up in several key verses stated by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John (John 3:16-21):

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

The reference to Noah in the opening line to this post is a statement about just how much we human beings haven’t really improved or changed since his day and time in history. To give you some perspective on how far back we are going in time, Noah was the tenth generation from Adam, and Jesus Christ was the 66th generation from Adam. And regarding the fact that nothing much has changed from generation to generation, King Solomon, who was the son of King David, and was the 33rd generation from Adam, made the following statement in Ecclesiastes 1:4-11:

Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

So what exactly were the folks in Noah’s day doing way back then? Well, in his end times discourse in Matthew 24, Jesus describes what was occurring in Noah’s day that was, is, and will continue to be going on until the end of time as we know it in Matthew 24:37-39:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [referring to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ].

Faith Without ActionsThe folks in Noah’s day were doing the same things we do today–they were eating, drinking, marrying, and generally living life right up until the day of the great flood (see an excellent discussion on the flood and it’s meaning then and now at at this link). In fact, it was “business as usual,” much like our days are filled with today. And just like in the days of Noah, the issue at hand was that many folks (except the few who were on the ark with Noah) lived life as if God did not exist and that what they did was inconsequential in the total scheme of life. Much like today, many did whatever they wanted to do without any thought for God. And they were given 120 years while Noah was building the ark to consider their ways, but instead, they mocked and make jokes about Noah, right up until the rain started falling, the door to the ark was closed, and nobody else could get in.

The issue at hand, both then and now, is that we want to live life on our own terms and God gets pushed aside, either out of unbelief that He even exists, or in a pseudo-belief in a variety of ways to try to appease God while still having our own way. Even demons believe that God and Jesus Christ exist, so belief at that level is not enough for believing faith (see James 2:19). In fact, let’s look at that passage in James 2:14-26:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Believing faith isn’t just showing up for church on Sunday morning and singing a few songs and listening to a half hour sermon and then going back home and living anyway we want for the rest of the week. Believing faith is proved out on a daily, moment-by-moment basis in how we live our lives, how we interact with others (and yes, even the sales clerk who was nasty to us), how we talk to and treat others (and not gossiping about them or rolling our eyes when they walk by or giving them that self-righteous look that says we think we are better then they are if we disapprove of them in any way). It’s about our availability to help someone with no ulterior motive of our own attached to that assistance (as in the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality). And it’s about not going along with the crowd (Christian or otherwise) even if we are the only one not going along with them, especially if what they are doing is dead wrong (and even if they think it’s right).

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post titled, Risky Business,” regarding group mentality or “groupthink” (click here for post). As stated in the first paragraph of that post, Groupthink–a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972)–occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of ‘mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.’ Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making” (source: Any church, organization, business or other group setting is vulnerable to “groupthink,” especially when it comes to shunning individuals or other groups whom they perceive to be “outside their box.”

On the same topic, in a post titled Top 10 Instances of Mob Mentality (July 28, 2013), the author, S. Grant, states the following:

While we all like to believe we have the fortitude to stand by our own convictions during any situation, most of us tend to follow the behaviors of others. But what’s particularly strange is that when enough of us get together, we end up doing some really bizarre, nonsensical, and downright violent things that we’d never consider on our own. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as herd or mob mentality, and when you consider the past and present, you realize it’s led to some major “What were they thinking?!” moments. (Quote source here which also includes 10 instances of this type of abuse.)

One doesn’t have to look very far to find examples of group/mob mentality as it occurs in every area of society and in all age ranges and ethnic groups and is not limited to any specific group of people or organizations–religious or otherwise. However, whether it is on a group/mob level or done on an individual basis, God doesn’t miss anything, and He sees through to the condition of our own individual heart attitude. Remember what James 2:19 says–even demons believe in God. We can say we “believe” but if our actions don’t bear it out in our interactions with others including those we don’t like, we really don’t believe at all.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah . . .” and it is still that same way today. While no man knows the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s return (see Matthew 24:36-51), if we’re living rightly with other folks in this world of ours (and that includes those folks we don’t like on either a group level or individual basis), and looking out for them and not just looking out for ourselves, then we should have no fear of when that day or hour might show up.

We can’t just say we believe . . .

We have to prove it . . .

As faith without works is dead . . . .

YouTube Video: “We Believe” by the Newsboys:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here