Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Story 15 - Naaman's Question 2 Kings 5.1-14

In a way, I can relate to Naaman. Here is a general, albeit of the enemy, who is afflicted with some skin disease. Perhaps it was eczema like I have, which makes working with the hands problematic. Perhaps is was psoriasis. Maybe something else. It distressed him to the point that a girl whom he captured from Israel, told him where he could find hope. This hope easily grabs his king’s attention to the point that there is a small processional going with him. I wonder if the king thought, “If Naaman is this good handicapped, how formidable would he become healed?” 

Leading this small parade, he arrived in Israel, appearing to the king, then only to be directed to where the prophet Elisha lived, who in turned used one of his butlers as his emissary to the general. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy. What did he come to see?

That is the question that he wanted answered. He was expecting something great. He expected a few events.
1.       He expected a grand welcoming.  The Prophet didn’t bother to greet him. Naaman was too proud.
Yet what Naaman learned was something of what faith is. Though he came in pomp, he was to come to God. Too often we can begin to think more of ourselves than we ought. God is not lucky to have us. Rather, we are blessed that He welcomes us, just as we are. Perhaps the reason that the servant met Naaman instead of the prophet was that Naaman was unclean with his skin disease. It may not have been a matter of arrogance.

Don’t dismiss how we come before God. Pride always comes before the fall is what the Proverbs teach us. Paul taught the church in Corinth that love is not proud. Jesus said blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. When we first accepted Christ, wasn’t it from the point of our realization of our needs, our brokenness before the Lord?

2.       He expected a grand showing.  God doesn’t serve us. We are to serve and honor Him.
Naaman expected the prophet to come out, to command the healing.  He didn’t understand the nature of God. God is not some genie. God is great, holy being. In previous chapters we saw Elisha’s predecessor, Elijah, have a battle of the gods, if you will. The prophets of Baal and Asherah called on them to consume the offering. Yet nothing happened. For all that great show, not even an ember appeared. Yet for Elijah, a small prayer and God showed His glory, because Elijah’s prayer wasn’t for his benefit. It wasn’t so people would revere him but would turn back to God.

People today say that if God is God, then let him continue to prove it. Stop the wars. Stop the natural disasters. Yet we missed it. How did Elijah hear God? It wasn’t in power, but in the small whisper. God’s miracles often come through quiet prayers and are only seen when people look for them. Today, God uses His children to be instruments of healing and grace.

3.       He expected a grand feat. Yet his task was simple. Dip in the Jordan River 7 times. Again, we can look back at how religions tend to work, through feats of prayer, through posturing, through offering. They tend to be done because the worshipper is seeking his god’s favor. Yet our God doesn’t ask us to make a showing. Jesus tells us to pray in our closets if that is needed to keep our prayers focused on God and not ourselves. He dismissed the offerings of the wealthy and honored the mites of the poor woman. He condemned the babbling prayer of the righteous man and honored the prayer of the penitent man. It is the attitude and obedience in the simple that God honors.

4.       But then God did something grand. When Naaman realized what was being required, doing things in God’s way, his flesh was like that of a boy, strong and supple. His joy was great when he realized the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father. He tried to gift the prophet who refused.

It is the same for us this morning. So often we seek the great things to happen, that we forget about obeying the simple. Love God. Will the decision I make bring honor to God?  Am I seeking His will in what I am about to do, in what I am asking to have happen? Love your neighbor as yourself. Do you give of yourself not only to your family, but also to strangers? Even when they raise your ire, or have a completely different faith set, do you look for ways that you can show them God’s love?

Another take home comes from not only Naaman but also his servant girl. Her prayer was likely to be restored, to be able to go home to her family. Yet that prayer didn’t get answered. Yet despite being where she didn’t want to be, she still honored God and proclaimed him by telling her master of the prophet in Israel. 

From Naaman, he knew where he was returning. Sometimes there will be a situation not in our control, such as when the king wants to worship his idol and have his fiercest warrior kneeling next to him. Even in that moment, his heart is pure before God.

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