Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Forgotten Story of Noah

Have you ever stumbled across someone else's sin, only to turn around and tell your friends about it? Honestly, it could have been a complete accident that you found out. But how did you react once you gained that new information about that someone?

This question is so important, because it's not about mere gossip. It's about building up and tearing down the body of Christ.

Amazingly, there's a story in the Old Testament that touches on this subject. So let's dive right in together and read Genesis 9:18-27:
18) Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. 19) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. 20) Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. 21) He drank the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22) Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23) But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so they did not see their father's nakedness. 24) When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. 25) So he said, "cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers." 26) He also said, "blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27) May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant." (NASB)
Ham Mocking God, Bernardino Luini
Understand that Noah was human. He might have been a righteous man who walked with God (Genesis 6:9), but he still sinned. And believe me, his drunkenness mentioned above is not the only time he ever sinned. It's merely the only specific recording we have from the Bible.

More importantly, though, are his sons' reactions.

Ham dishonored Noah by looking on his nakedness. In this particular passage, the Hebrew meaning of the word "saw" literally means Ham "gazed with satisfaction." So, not only did Ham see Noah uncovered, he enjoyed the humiliated state of his father and could not wait to tell others about it. 

Also, when Ham told Japheth and Shem what he saw, it brought division between his entire family. Noah specifically cursed Canaan, Ham's son, instead of Ham himself. Noah's shame of Ham would be reciprocated onto Ham because of Canaan's curse. If you continue throughout Scripture, you'll see that Ham's descendants, the Canaanites, literally became the servants of Shem's descendants, the Semites. Eventually the Canaanites became extinct. The curse Noah spoke over Canaan came true. Fortunately, that also means the curse no longer haunts our generation. It died with Ham's lineage.

Notice, too, that the blessing Noah placed on Shem and Japheth came true. Instead of pointing and laughing at their father's weakness, they honored him by covering his nakedness. Because of this, their descendants spread across the world, and are still present to this day.

Noah's Wine
In the New Testament, Christians are considered part of the Body of Christ. Today, it still rings true. We've been adopted into the family of God. And when we spread the stories of another Christian's downfall, we are only bringing division to the Body of Believers.

When we see our fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ stumble in sin, we too must cover them with the blankets of love, mercy, and honor. Because truthfully, we're all sinners (Romans 3:23). If it weren't for Jesus Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, we would all wander still in the mire that is our wickedness. Yet, God covered us in love by sending His Son to take on our sin (John 3:16). He covered us in mercy by offering us the free gift of eternal life with Him (Romans 6:23). He covered us in honor by adopting us into His heavenly family (Romans 8:14-17).

According to Galatians 6:1-2, we must "bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." Are you carrying the burdens of your fellow Brothers and Sisters? Are you fulfilling Christ's law? Or do you burden the Church by eagerly spreading stories of your fallen Siblings in Christ? May the latter never be.

I charge you, my dear Brothers and Sisters, to love one another, even in our weakest moments. We all have them. You are no less guilty than me, and I you. Unfortunately, it's what makes us human. I charge you to build one another up. When one of us falls (because it will happen), may we be there to lift up, encourage, and pray for the Body of Christ. Only then will we be able to work as one for the Kingdom of God!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Single Life: Quit Looking and Start Living!

Love. It's a four-letter word consisting of two consonants and two vowels. It can be a noun or a verb. Merriam-Webster has at least thirteen definitions for the word. And yet we still struggle to understand its full meaning.

Hollywood wants us to believe love is all about one-night stands, hook-ups, and roaring intimacy. This Valentine's Day alone, three romantic movies will release in theaters. Each film displays these ideals that love is hardly more than an action displayed in the bedroom.

Then there's the struggle as a Christian single. Our world, even the Bible belt world, is surrounded by people entering and exiting relationships. You start out in middle school searching for the right person. If something doesn't seem to work out, you ditch the "special someone" you were just bragging about, and begin searching all over again. Or, maybe you don't date much, if at all. If you're anything like me, you've chosen to not date, but you keep your eyes peeled for any likely suitors. Every new guy you meet turns into a possible solution to this problem called "singleness". You search and search and search, all in order to find the right one.

I'm not going to lie; I've struggled with this. For too many years I've waited around hoping a guy will make me happy, to become the one for me. Then one day my wise older brother shared something with me that changed my outlook on dating. It gives me clarity when I start looking at guys as future spouses rather than brothers in Christ.

Here's what he shared with me. He took me to the very beginning: to Adam and Eve. In Genesis chapter two, God creates the first couple. If you've ever been in Sunday School, you probably remember the story well. God breathes life into Adam. Adam names all the animals. Then Eve is created and Adam said, "Whoa, man!" But there's an intricate part of the story that is usually overlooked. Genesis 2:21-22 says:

So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. [NASB]

Adam wasn't even paying attention when God created Eve for him. In fact, he was completely asleep. It wasn't until God "brought her" to Adam that he knew the blessings of having a spouse. When we look at it in this context, a spouse is a gift from God, someone He brings into our lives to be a helper and mate in our journey through life. A spouse isn't someone we need to go out and search for in order to have happiness in our lives. Sure, they do bring those things with them, but our true happiness and joy should come from Jesus Christ. They don't complete us. They complement us and make us better, just as iron sharpens iron [Proverbs 27:17]. Christ, however, does complete us. He makes us entirely whole. He gives us purpose. I think sometimes we get so caught up in finding the right one we forget that, as Christians, we already know the only One Who really matters.

Joshua Harris says it best in I Kissed Dating Goodbye:
When I stopped viewing girls as potential girlfriends and started treating them as sisters in Christ, I discovered the richness of true friendship. When I stopped worrying about who I was going to marry and began to trust God's timing, I uncovered the incredible potential of serving God as a single. And when I stopped flirting with temptation in one-on-one dating relationships and started pursuing righteousness, I uncovered the peace and power that comes from purity.

Being single can be great. It sure isn't easy, but it can be a blessing if we allow it to be. And while merely focusing on God is not going to hasten the arrival of a spouse, chances are it will make the wait more bearable, maybe even enjoyable! We mustn't let the idea of a spouse override our thoughts, but instead rush our minds and hearts with the peace that comes from knowing a perfect Creator.