Jump Start # 2431
2 Kings 5:11 “But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, he will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cured the leper.”
Oh, Naaman! A victorious commander, the theme of multiple sermons, was greatly disappointed with Elisha. Naaman faced his greatest battle and this one he couldn’t win on his own. He had leprosy. Deadly, contagious, painful and nothing Naaman could do to stop it’s advancing through his body. Naaman’s position, his wealth, his past victories, none of that could stop death from coming. But there was the voice of a girl, a servant girl, a foreigner. She tells about the prophet Elisha. He could heal. Word is sent and Naaman shows up with chariots, ready for a grand display. He’s got this all worked out in his mind. Elisha will appear, dressed like a prophet. His arms will wave in the air. He’ll call to God, likely with a loud thunderous voice. The clouds might gather. Maybe even a clasp of lightning and thunder. Then the leper would be cured. It’ll be awesome. It’s going to make the news. Nothing like this has happened and Naaman was going to be right in the center.
There are times in our lives when we face great events. Weddings are like that. Funerals are like that. Surgeries are like that. We think through those events before they happen. We anticipate what things will be like. Those thoughts swirl around in our minds at night. They keep us up at night. For Naaman, he had it all figured out. But none of it happened the way he thought. Elisha didn’t even show himself. There was no waving of the arms. No one even called upon the name of God. How was he going to be cured if God wasn’t called upon? And, then to be told to go to a dirty river and dip seven times? That’s not impressive. Where is the pomp? Where is the power? Where is the grand demonstration? God’s name isn’t even brought up. Will this work? Is Elisha brushing him off?
Now, what we find here is a grand disconnect that often takes place. Our expectations and reality often are far apart. This happens when we go to a movie. A lot of hype about a new movie. We go. We’re excited. The movie was a dud. It wasn’t what we were expecting. The expectation and the reality didn’t match.
For Naaman, his disappointment wasn’t about a restaurant or a movie, but with God. More specifically, it was with the people of God. He was really disappointed with Elisha. The prophet wasn’t very prophet-like. And, today, there would be some who would use the occasion to tell Elisha a few things. He should have at least came out and explained why dipping in the Jordan river works. He should have spent a few moments with Naaman. This certainly wasn’t good PR. Naaman was a foreigner. He was a visitor. The rudeness of Elisha, some would say, may have caused Naaman not to come back again.
And, here is the bridge for you and I in this passage. We have expectations about God, church and the leaders in the congregation. We have it in our minds how things ought to be. At every surgery, the preacher and the elders need to be sitting throughout the entire surgery in the waiting room. It’s not that the surgeon will step out and ask for their advice, but ‘it’s what they are supposed to do.’ And, when it doesn’t happen, we blow a gasket like ole’ Naaman did. We become disappointed. They let us down.
When a visitor drops in on a Sunday, we expect all the leaders to rush over there, make a big deal about them and make them feel special. Visitors sometimes have that expectation. If that doesn’t happen, shock waves run through the building and especially in our minds. What are they doing, we think? Isn’t this their job? Great disappointment fills the air.
I’m not sure where Naaman got the idea that Elisha ought to appear, waving his arms in the air and calling on God’s name. Maybe that’s how the Syrian prophets operated. The Syrian prophets couldn’t heal Naaman. The Syrian prophets followed fake gods and had no real powers. And, sadly, the same happens today. A visitor may walk in expecting to leave with gift cards, cash in hand, and coupons for a free car wash. Maybe that’s what they got down the street at another church. What they find is that worship isn’t about us, but it’s about God. Truth is taught. God is honored. We all bow our hearts and our wills to Him. There is no popcorn. There is no coupons. There is no gift bags filled with items to take home. What a disappointment, some think. What they find is godly people who love, connect and follow truth. What they find is real hope through a risen Savior. What they find is real answers to real questions. The cotton candy churches provide pretty band-aids for problems. The band-aids look nice on you but the real problems linger below the surface. God’s word, the truth, plain vanilla as it is, is our Jordan River today. It works. It cures sin. It connects us to Jesus who forgives. It changes our hearts. It molds us into being better people. The plain-Jane Bible works, just as the muddy Jordan worked for Naaman. It may not be what you were wanting. It may not be what you were expecting. But, it works. It always has.
The prophet didn’t show and the preacher may not come. No waving of the arms and no special treatment given to you. No loud calling on the name of the Lord and no crowds gathered around you telling you what a great person you are. But when Naaman finally got down to that river and humbled himself and dipped seven times, he was cured. And, when you and I humble ourselves and open that Bible and start doing what it says, we too get cured. Not of physical illnesses, but of spiritual ones. Hatred. Prejudice. Unforgiving. Selfishness. Greed. Pride. Envy. Gossip. Go to the Bible. Do what it says. Those things will be removed from your heart. You don’t need a special class booklet. You don’t need a special 13-week class. You don’t need a sermon just made for you. What you need to do is go to the Bible and do what it says. You don’t even need a preacher to tell you. It’s there. It’s not hard to understand. It’s a matter of your expectations meeting the reality of what God does.
Things to think about…