I once met a man named Popeye.
He wasn’t a cartoon character, he was a real man serving time in a minimum security prison. I’d gone with my church to minister to whoever would come to meet with us.
Popeye told me he wanted to trust Christ to save him from his sins, but he needed to clean up his life first.
I couldn’t convince him that cleaning up his life was not a prerequisite for salvation. The only prerequisite was faith in the message that there’s salvation in Christ alone. “No,” he said. “I must get my life straightened out first. Then . . . then I’ll become a Christian.” He refused to accept salvation as a free gift.
Every year that goes by I think about Popeye and wonder what happened to him. Only God knows what was really going on in his heart that night.
Maybe he couldn’t fathom such a radical gift of undeserved grace as he sat in prison serving time for his crime.
Maybe he was just saying what he thought I wanted to hear and didn’t really care about Jesus or changing.
I learned during our time of prison ministry that a surprising number of people prefer prison over living in the world, because, despite the fact that it’s prison, it’s their home.
We’re not always much different.
Sometimes we find ourselves imprisoned in sin, and despite it making us miserable, because it’s familiar — because it’s home — we stay.
Staying is a choice we make.
When Noah built the ark while the world watched, I believe he preached the message of salvation from judgment. (2 Peter 2:5 calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness.”) This leads me to believe others could have followed Noah and his family onto the ark, leaving the condemned world behind, but they refused. Why would God give Noah the message of righteousness but not offer the path? He wouldn’t. He didn’t.
Noah knew the path, and he preached the message. They chose to ignore it.
Choosing to accept God’s invitation and enter the Ark seems a no-brainer to us.
Enter the ark and be safe, or refuse and get washed away in the worldwide flood of judgment with everyone else.
How hard of a choice could that really have been, and yet only eight made the choice to accept God’s invitation.
Popeye never said he was refusing God’s invitation of salvation, but neither was he willing to accept it. Unfortunately, Popeye’s choosing to do nothing about the invitation was choosing to reject it.
In the days of Noah, the world faced the same decision.
Ignoring Noah’s message of righteousness and impending judgment and not entering the ark was choosing to see how long they could tread water, not in a serene pool for an hour or two, but rather in a raging storm guaranteed to overwhelm them and the earth. (You can’t cover the entire earth with water in only forty days with a gentle Spring shower. It takes a deluge.)
We, too, have a choice to make.
We must either choose to accept God’s invitation to enter into our salvation provided through His Son, or choose to reject it.
Choosing to do nothing about it is choosing to reject it — to reject Christ.
Likewise, all who accept Christ’s invitation to enter into salvation through Christ will be saved from sin. All who refuse, will perish.
I think Noah and his family chose well. What about you?
If you’re new to the Noah’s Ark Series, Click here to read previous posts: The Red Thread in Noah’s Ark
Don’t miss a post as we follow The Red Thread of Jesus in Noah’s Ark by subscribing to my blog. And please remember to share this post using the share buttons (found in my website, if you’re reading this via email) and/or the Click to Tweet below:
By the way, here’s an interesting and ironic thought:
In today’s world, a person entering prison steps into a “box” of sorts, cut off from the world.
In the time of Noah, however, it was the world that was the prison and stepping into the Ark — the “box” — was stepping into freedom.
I just thought that was interesting. It’s a freebie for you.
Thank you, Kaitlyn Barkley, for the poignant photograph above. To visit her blog and see more photos by Kaitlyn click here: Kaitlyn Barkley Photography.