Going Under

Genesis 6:1-9:29

If God hadn’t tried it, we would always have wondered.

The world was a disaster in the old, familiar ways.  Leaders lied and bankers stole.  Lady Justice peaked under her blindfold.  Nations built empires with mortar of blood.  Husbands beat up their wives.  Mothers sold their children for a quick fix.  Brother betrayed brother for the price of a boast.  The scorched and stripped soil wept silently.

The solution seems simple as it does satisfying:

Gather together all the good, decent, reasonable people, tuck them away inside a reinforced ark and/or bunker, then let loose the cannons of justice.  Wipe the problem of evil right off the map.  Now, I know what you’re going to say—this sounds a bit extreme.  But think about it for a moment: terrorists, traffickers, slumlords, drug lords, pedophiles, corrupt politicians, hedge fund managers, Yankees fans—all of them, gone in an instant.  What couldn’t we—the good, decent, reasonable—accomplish with such a clean slate?

So God fulfills the fantasy—sends the righteous away on a round-the-world cruise and stays home to clean house.

We step outside our bunker-boat onto ground that’s still sparkling with lysol dew.  And for a moment in time, things are perfect.  Nobody’s baking forbidden-fruit pie.  No one’s polluting the river of life.  It’s just us and Noah—the righteous, blameless, faithful—planting the seeds of a bright new world.  Welcome to Creation 2.0; Creation: The Righteous Edition.

Except, wait a minute.  Not so fast.  What does the paragon of decency, the world’s one righteous man, do to celebrate the great triumph of Good?  He drinks himself into a self-satisfied stupor, passes out naked, and on waking hungover, curses to slavery the son with the misfortune to see him exposed.  And that’s when the terrible epiphany strikes:

The problem with the world?  All along it’s been…me.

The shame, the violence, the greed and gluttony—it wasn’t drowned with the monsters and the Nephilim.  It was a stowaway upon the ark, carried aboard tucked away inside the vest of no less than the righteous, the blameless, the faithful, even Noah himself.

It turns out, there’s just one problem with defeating evil by deluge: the only way it works is if no one’s on the boat.

The world was a disaster in the old, familiar ways.  Leaders lied and bankers stole.  Lady Justice peaked under her blindfold.  Nations built empires with mortar of blood.  Husbands beat up their wives.  Mothers sold their children for a quick fix.  Brother betrayed brother for the price of a boast.  The scorched and stripped soil wept silently.

Then along came Jesus, who declared:

“God causes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.  God sends rain to fall on the righteous and on the unrighteous.”  Behold, God’s grand new strategy.  So long ark and goodbye flood.  The problem of evil is answered by…a shower of indiscriminate mercy.

Say, what?

For all our pious talk, the truth is, most of us are skeptics.  We trust the power of fire and flood to transform through destruction.   But the power of rain to change the game through soft, persistent  wooing?  We cannot imagine a world healed like this, one drop at a time.

Yet Jesus proclaims it boldly: God is emptying the ark.  No more “righteous,” “blameless,” “faithful”—God is calling out the lie, inviting all the culpable out under open sky.  To stand there with our heads thrown back, being showered by mercy.  To drink it in.  Let it run down our faces.  Let it soak through our clothes and pool in our shoes.  To remain in the rain until our wounds are soothed and our stains are cleansed.  Until our vision clears and our thirst is quenched.  To remain in the rain until our deserts bloom, and in the depths of our soil, all things become new.

This is God’s judgment on the world: Jesus, the flood of mercy deep enough to drown in.  This is salvation: not floating above the water but plunging ourselves beneath it.  We’re baptized into the heart of his waters.  We come back up to spend the rest of our lives dancing with our enemies beneath gentle mercies that fall new every day.

And the story isn’t over yet, because Jesus also tells his disciples—they are to be like the God they serve.  We are to be the world’s rain-makers—not its flood but its showers of indiscriminate blessing.  We’re to rain so soft and steady, so strong and relentless that hardened ground remembers how to drink.

The rainbow isn’t just a promise; it’s a declaration of strategy.  There is hope for a broken world;   there is an end to evil.  And it comes when God’s people learn to fall like rain with the Son’s light shining through them.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather