Two boys, clenched fists, swollen lip, tear stained glaring faces. Mom asks the inevitable question: "Who started it?"
The initiator bears responsibility. It takes two to fight, of course, but the one who started it ...
God started it, and he's willing to take responsibility. Not just for a good creation -- its goodness including freedom, an incredible good, such that there is possibility in freedom for growth and maturation -- but also for its brokenness, its waywardness. God is willing to take responsibility here too. He will purge his creation, wipe out the sin. But -- and this is the important part, this is the amazing part -- he will make his covenant with Noah. God the covenant-maker creates something new: a covenant that preserves not only Noah's life, but also the lives of his wife and his sons and their wives and many, many other creatures. God creates a covenant that preserves life.
It is one thing to initiate punishment. That is usually just a reaction to circumstances, reaction to other people's initiative. But God wipes creation clean AND initiates a life-giving covenant with Noah. Whenever someone lives in a relationship with God, this is God's agenda. He initiates his covenant, defines the relationship so that not only is that person preserved, but God works through them to preserve life in their family, in their home, in their neighborhood. Each one who knows God is an outpost of God's love in a broken creation.
Here we see the poverty of western Christianity at the end of the 20th century: God wants to work as he worked through Noah to create a covenant, and those who live in that covenant will become God's means to rescue creation. We took this amazing vision and said that living in covenant with God is a way for one (1) individual person to "get to heaven" -- a biblically suspect phrase at best. God is about rescuing and redeeming creation and we think it's about me getting saved. God's vision extends to our sons and daughters, cousins and uncles and nieces and dogs and the rabbits that live in the trees behind my house. It is all creation God wants to save, and Noah is a picture of how he does it. Where there is relationship with an individual, God works to save the neighborhood.
You see, now, how important it becomes, this choosing that God does? God chooses and a small corner of creation is drawn closer to him. God makes a covenant and a bit of creation is redeemed.
So are you living in covenant with God? His call is to you just as much as it was to Noah. His agenda for you is no less -- build a mighty ark, a solid home, a loving family, a strong network of friends, a thriving business in which people, dogs, rabbits, trees, can be drawn into relationship with God.
God started it with Noah. God started it in your life. His agenda, driven by his limitless love for his creation, is the same.