As it invariably happens in conversations of which I am a part that last more than about 5 minutes, the subject of God ultimately came up. Now my friend is a "somewhat practicing Catholic" (in his own words) and therefore doesn't know a whole lot about my faith. He does, however, know that I am a preacher which I suppose he figures is somewhat different than the priests with whom he is accustomed. From this came the question, "So what does a preacher actually do?" He went on to clarify, "I mean I know you get up in front of people and talk to them about the bible, but is it to try to convert people, tell the how to live their lives or what?"
What happened after that, as it does with a frequency that is no longer surprising, reminds me yet again why I love God and His method of communication through the Spirit so much. You see the first thing that popped into my mind is the story of Noah (found primarily in Gen 6 and 7 for the purposes of our discussion). In that I'd never thought about what I do in terms of Noah before, I took it that God was giving me the assist and providing me with a way to relate my calling and responsibilities to someone who had honest questions, using something with which they could relate. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
You might imagine the difficulty (and the space limitations) of accurately recreating a conversation in writing so I'll give you the high points of what the Lord shared with us both.
- The world is now as it was in Noah's time, in a pitiful state, according to verse 5-6 of chapter 6. Even a casual read of today's newspaper headlines or a glance at the evening news bears this out. No one is under the illusion that times are tough and that much of it can be attributed to our moral decay.
- As in verses 9 and 10, it is my responsibility to find favor with God by living my life in as clean and upright a manner as I possibly can. Surely this is something that all who call on his name should diligently pursue, however he who is the herald of God must walk an even narrower path.
- According to verse 3, time was limited as is God's patience. Acts 17:30 reminds us that God is long suffering with many of our sinful and ignorant behaviors but ultimately expects for us to make a change. To be sure, there is a consequence for failure to make this change. We know that the people of Noah's time, as with now, don't fully understand the implications and consequences of their actions, nor the sign of the times. I've got bible for that. Check out Luke 17:26, 27.
- Like Noah, my job is to convince people to get in the boat before it is everlastingly too late. Looking at 1 Pet 3:20 and 2 Pet 2:5, as well as Gen 6:3, we can surmise that Noah, while being given 120 years to construct an ark was likewise either charged or moved to warn people of the earth's impending doom and encourage them to get on the boat. Peter even refers to Noah as a preacher rather than a carpenter or a ship builder.
- I am also to be obedient to God and to have faith in Him. No matter how unusual the command or circumstance, no matter how inconvenient, my job is to do. This is what Noah did and it saved him and his family and by extension, all of humanity.
As far as the rest, well my job is also to teach and minister to (serve) those who wisely get on the old ship of Zion in the ways of our ultimate benefactor, the Lord, as commanded in Matt 28:18-20. We must all love each other as Christ loved us and then be obedient to his will by inviting others onto the boat.
Now if you've ever had any interactions with Human Resources on your job, you might have come across a phrase that may involve the following: "While these things do not include the totality of your responsibilities, they do make up the essential expectations and minimum requirements."
That is to say, this is not an exhaustive list but for an answer to a sincere question asked by an acquaintance over lunch, this is basically what a preacher does.
By the way, I did invite he and his family to get on the boat. Please be in prayer for that.
Strengthening our Faith