We all know the story of Noah and the ark, but you have to admit it would've taken enormous faith to build that boat—a box the size of an aircraft carrier, in the middle of Iraq, hundreds of miles from any body of water big enough to float it. And the thing we often miss is that, by faithfully continuing to build that boat, Noah preached a message to everyone who saw it or heard about it: God's judgment is coming.
The people of Noah's age lived how they wanted, believing that as long as you do what's right in your own eyes, you'll be happy. But that was fake news—and Noah was one of the few who fact-checked it. Noah's life brought to light a biblically supported fact: to live the best possible life, you must walk with God, please Him in your words and deeds, and choose to go His way rather than your own.
To be clear, it's much easier to go with the flow than it is to swim against it. That's why so many people are willing to blend into the background of our culture—including many in the church. We don't want to stick out. We understand that any dead fish can float downstream, but we seldom count the cost of going along with the prevailing current.
However, our mandate is clear: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). Those are familiar words, so read that verse again in this paraphrase from The Message: "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
Noah "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8) because he lived out this verse. Hebrews tells us that "by faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7).
Noah put feet to his faith, and that's how he impacted the world for God—and how you can, too. It's always been the case that God only accepts those who receive His promises by faith. Religious ceremony won't make the connection, nor will good deeds. Being "better than most" won't cut it with a perfect and holy God. Noah believed that, which is why he lived his life following God's lead. Hebrews 11 says that "godly fear" was what motivated him—not being afraid that God was sitting around waiting to punish him and destroy the world, but rather making faith-filled decisions that honored and glorified the Lord.
The first tree Noah cut down was probably the hardest. After that, he was all in. Take a moment to consider what testimony of God your lifestyle is preaching to the world. Do you live out a faith like Noah's, not afraid to go against the flow of culture but rather doing everything to bring glory to God?