On Obedience and Relationship with God

Genesis 7

Through Noah’s faith, he pleases God. St Paul writes in his letter to the Hebrews that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6). And so here, we see Noah, who having pleased God through his faith, receives the key to the knowledge of salvation. He is told to the very letter exactly what he must do to be saved; the very measurements that he must follow, even the materials he must use, to build the ark. And, as St Paul reiterates in this same letter, “By faith, Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household…” (Hebrews 11:7).

It’s this whole idea that Noah had faith in God, which was pleasing to God, and so God gave him the knowledge to the means of his salvation. The knowledge of salvation was given to him freely, but he had to obey God to actually attain this means of salvation. God told him tooth and nail exactly how to build the ark, but it required Noah’s willful obedience to God to actually build it. Noah understood something which is so often lacking in our culture; that faith leads to knowledge, but if that knowledge doesn’t lead to obedience, then it’s useless. Because of his faith, he was given very detailed instructions as to what was necessary for his salvation; but it was also because of his faith that he obeyed those instructions. See, Noah having the foreknowledge of what was coming would have been to no avail, had he not heeded the knowledge and obeyed God. His faith alone would never have saved him, but rather it was his faith working in synergy with his obedience.

Far too often, we are tempted to trust in just this knowledge, however. God has given us His holy Scripture, His Church, and through each of these He has given us these very detailed instructions on how we must be saved. He has explained to us as children exactly what our salvation is and how we are to acquire it, but it is not merely enough to have just this knowledge if we heed not the warnings that we are given. St John the Theologian teaches us to “no longer love in word or in thought, but in deed and in action,” and Jesus teaches us that “whoever loves Me will obey all that I have commanded.” Noah, like us, has received the revelation of God unto salvation, but unlike us, rather than arguing over the measurements, he obeyed exactly as he was instructed. Consider this when we consider the teachings of our Lord. “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Me.” “Whoever forgives, His Father in heaven will forgive, but whoever does not forgive, neither will His Father in heaven forgive Him.” “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for Me.” How often, having received His commands, do we choose debate and arguing over obedience to His teaching?

My brethern, may we always be instead like Noah; obedient, steadfast, convicted in the faith. We have the Holy Scriptures, we have the Church, we have all of these things which have made it far easier to obey than Noah had; and yet, so often, because of our pride, we have a harder time obeying the words of our God. Through each of these things, God has given us the instructions detailing what salvation is and by what means we may acquire it. May we not waste this valuable time that we have been given seeking to argue over finite details, but rather commend our lives unto Christ our God. Let us devote our lives to spiritual maturity; fasting, almsgiving, prayer, study of Holy Scripture, study of the Church Fathers; growing in maturity and drawing closer in our relationship with God. Let us never become knowledgeable atheists, but rather let us draw closer to the Lord, growing in our relationship with Him.

Christ is in our midst.

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