Friday, I had a pleasant evening, with dinner at a small Mediterranean place near our home, followed by a movie, Evan Almighty. The dinner was passably good, but the movie, to my surprise, touched me deeply, and has had me thinking ever since.
The story is about a guy, Evan, who is out to change the world, and who gets elected to Congress on that platform. His life is radically rearranged when God takes his "change the world" talk seriously, and gives him a job to do: build an ark.
I won't go further with the story, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might want to see it. But it's easy to imagine the response when Evan begins acting in what everyone considers a radical, probably insane manner - saying God told him to build a big boat. He doesn't get much support. I was thinking about the response that Noah might have gotten from folks in the area as he began a similar project, but in real life. A big boat, with no water nearby, no precedent, and his only explanation is, "God told me to." Right. Whacked out.
God, I am happy to say, has never told me to build an ark. Probably a good thing, since I wouldn't have a clue how to begin, though if it were a sailboat, I would be happy to learn. No boat. But he has told me to do some other things, not so obviously radical. In most cases, it wasn't that difficult to obey, and I have moved long distances, for example, because God said so. Some others were different, and much harder.
I wonder how many of us - myself included - simply refuse to consider what God has clearly told us as his will for us - written in black and white in both the Old and New Testaments - because of fear of the response of others. We don't want to take risks, or face ridicule, or do anything that might make us look foolish. So we ignore the clear instruction of God. And then we call ourselves his people, the ones who have the truth and who worship him.
I remember once interviewing a young woman who wanted a teaching job at a school where I was the principal. After answering my endless questions, it was her turn, and she asked me why I was there. Nobody had ever asked me that, but without a thought, I said, "I want to change the world. I want it to be different because I was here."
I think I am not all that unusual. We all want to be significant, though perhaps we don't think of it in the sense of changing the world. But that's what God has called us to be: worldchangers. He has called us to radical obedience, a kind of discipleship that can only have profound results. He has called us to continue the work that Jesus began, to be the physical representatives of Jesus where we are, standing before the world in the place of Jesus. Pretty radical, actually. "Hi, I'm Larry. I'm here because God sent me so that you might see and know Jesus."
But that's the reality. That's the clear teaching of God's word. And we ignore it at our peril. Not only is there an accounting at the end, but we guarantee ourselves a small, empty, insignificant life as we disobey God.
At some point, I want to stand before God and hear, "Well done, son. I'm pleased with you." How about you?