~And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘
Wash, and be clean”?” II Kings 5:13
I know I have referenced this account often but as I came across it in my reading again recently, I cannot help but be struck by the perpetual relevance of it for the individual and for the church.
Here is Naaman, commander of the army of
is a pagan and an outsider when it comes to knowing the truth of God. However,
Naaman is a leper and has a desperate need. We can imagine that at this point
He has probably tried everything that has been available to him to cure his
disease. All effort and trial to no avail. He is now desperate enough to seek
the spiritual. His own fictional gods cannot help him, but he has heard about
the great and mighty power of the God of Israel. Perhaps there is something to
the stories and testimonies of divine grace. Eventually word reaches the
prophet Elishah that Naaman is seeking to be healed. The cure is to dunk in the
dirty muddy unimpressive river Jordan
seven times. Naaman scoffs. He is too good for something so simple. There are
better rivers at home, why should he subject himself to such folly? Yet the
verse written above convicts him, he obeys, and is healed by the grace and
power of God.
Naaman reflects the attitude of all humanity through all ages and contexts. Men and women perform great acts and great feats of strength to try to find God or achieve forgiveness. When confronted with the simple Gospel of repentance and faith through grace, many are turned away by its simplicity and lack of merit. Yet it is that foolishness, that simplicity, that total dependence on God that alone has the power to make one right with Him. As leprosy was symbolic of sin and the dirty water of the
healed it, so the blood of Christ heals our sin. This is something that makes
no earthly sense, yet is true by divine power and action. Praise God for the
given faith in simple dependence on His power through an offensive act.
The Church as a whole could learn from this too when it considers ministry and outreach. If the prophet had told Naaman something great would he not have done it? So it is that the church is always looking for some great big show of force or service. Many such things are never prescribed or counseled in the Word of God. We scoff at the appearance of inaction in worship, preaching, prayer, singing, personal witness. Yet these are the means of grace God has given, wash and be clean. Let us find joy in God’s simplicity and in humble and total rest on His power to work and provide for the church and those who are truly seeking him. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. II Corinthians 1:18