‘Then GOD shut the door behind him.’ (Genesis 7:16 The Message)
Have you noticed that in the story of Noah’s Ark God tells Noah to bring into the ark all the opposites: the wild and the domestic, the crawling and the flying, the clean and the unclean, the male and the female of each animal
(Genesis 7:2-15). Then God does a most amazing thing. He shuts the door behind them and locks them inside the ark
(Genesis 7:16). God actually closed them in. God puts all the natural animosities, all the opposites together, and holds them in one place.
Noah’s ark is not meant to be a cute children’s story; it is a mature metaphor for the people of God on the waves of time, carrying together the contradictions, the opposites, the tensions, and the paradoxes of humanity – preserving and protecting diversity inside of a safe unity created by God.
This safe unity we call the church, for the body of Christ has been brought together by God in all its diversity. Young and old, male and female, rich and poor, black and white (and every other colour), extrovert and introvert, have entered the safety of the church through the one door, Jesus Christ, which God shuts behind us so that we are locked in together.
This metaphor of Noah’s ark speaks to me of two lessons it reveals about the church.
First, we are called to get on with, to love and bear with one another despite the external differences we have. That’s not easy within the confined space of the church, but those differences fade away as we recognise that
‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28 NIVUK).
Secondly, we are to celebrate the rich diversity of experience, gifts, and talents of the people we are locked in with. Everybody in the church has something to contribute and is to be applauded for the value they add to the body of Christ. As the Apostle Paul shows in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 many different parts are needed to form one healthy and fully functioning body.
I for one am glad that I am locked into the church with such a range and variety of people. It helps me to both learn to get on with people who are different to me, and to appreciate all that they bring to the table.
In a world with choppy waters ahead I’m glad to be locked into the safety of the church with my brothers and sisters.
Father, in the midst of turbulence, may the church be a safe haven for all people. Please make it a community of peacemakers and bridgebuilders, where all can flourish.
Have a good week, appreciating your brothers and sisters.