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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Unimpressive Path to Immortality


I knew a person who walked away from Jesus as a result of he didn’t know what to do on Friday nights. When unbelieving, he knew precisely what to do. As a Christian, he wasn’t certain anymore. Learn his Bible? Pray? Hang around with different Christians? All of it appeared so, effectively, unremarkable. Was this it?

Have you ever felt this fashion concerning the Christian life? At occasions, it feels much less momentous than we count on. The technique of grace can really feel so regular — is it actually supernatural? At occasions we expect we hear our religious lives converse with the voice of Jacob, however different days we really feel solely the earthy fingers of Esau. Is that this actually the life God promised? Have we actually discovered what we’re on the lookout for, or we could search for one other? How will we reenchant our love for what feels so extraordinary?

Christian, the unimpressive path to glory isn’t any concession. To see this, I need you to fulfill a person who struggled with the ordinariness of God’s miraculous work.

You Might Be Healed

Naaman was an ideal man in Syria, a person of battle, and though a common extremely favored by the king and a soldier fierce on the battlefield, Naaman was shedding a unique sort of battle: “He was a mighty man of valor, however he was a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). His illness struck behind the protect; smirked at Naaman’s sword. Cry as loud as he may, his gods couldn’t heal him.

But an unseen (and unthanked) God stood behind Naaman’s many successes. Naaman was nice and extremely favored as a result of “by him the Lord had given victory to Syria” (2 Kings 5:1). And this Lord positioned a witness to himself inside Naaman’s family. “The Syrians on one in all their raids had carried off somewhat woman from the land of Israel, and he or she labored within the service of Naaman’s spouse” (2 Kings 5:2). Acquainted together with her grasp’s illness and her mistress’s misery, she boldly approaches her, “Would that my lord had been with the prophet who’s in Samaria! He would treatment him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3).

A glimmer of hope shines upon a sea of desperation. Might or not it’s true? Hoping towards hope, the spouse tells her husband. Maybe he resisted a day, then two, however may or not it’s true? He wanted to strive. He brings the little woman’s phrases to the king, “thus and so spoke the woman.” The king approves, writes to the King of Israel: “When this letter reaches you, know that I’ve despatched to you Naaman my servant, that you could be treatment him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:6).

The King of Israel tears open the letter one minute; tears his garments the subsequent. “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends phrase to me to treatment a person of his leprosy?” He sees the specter of battle behind the request (2 Kings 5:7). King Ahab’s son just isn’t God (nor in significantly good relations with him). What may he do? Elisha, nonetheless, hears the information of the king’s dismay, and tells him to ship the person to his door “that he [and the king] might know that there’s a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8).

Phrases of Restoration

Naaman’s spectacular entourage parks exterior: “Naaman got here along with his horses and chariots and stood on the door of Elisha’s home” (2 Kings 5:9). Knock, knock. Nothing. Knock, knock. Lastly, Elisha’s servant involves the door with the phrases of restoration: “Go and wash within the Jordan seven occasions, and your flesh shall be restored, and also you shall be clear” (2 Kings 5:10).

Think about the tense second of silence after the door thuds shut. Colour flashes on scaly cheeks. Jaws clench. Is that this man critical? The provocation hit its mark: he grew livid and stormed off in a rage (2 Kings 5:11–12). We get a transcription of his ideas as he turns for house:

Behold, I assumed that he would absolutely come out to me and stand and name upon the title of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and treatment the leper. Are usually not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, higher than all of the waters of Israel? Might I not wash in them and be clear? (2 Kings 5:11–12)

No, this could not do. Naaman wished therapeutic to be an occasion, one thing extra appropriate and spectacular. He wished the prophet to come back out and publicly carry out the miracle — he may humbly counsel a loud and eloquent prayer to his God accompanied with hand-waving, you already know, a way worthy of miracle-making. As a substitute, he sends out a servant to level at some murky river.

“Don’t be deceived by the littleness of the extraordinary technique of grace into neglecting them.”

Had not Naaman accomplished his half to set the stage? Had he not traveled many miles carrying lots of of kilos of silver and gold to revenue the prophet handsomely (“within the neighborhood of three-quarters of a billion {dollars},” IVP OT Background Commentary)? Had he not stood most politely and expectantly on the healer’s door and introduced an viewers for his powers? But, within the essential second, the principle actor appears to develop stage fright, neglect his strains, and ship him away simply as he arrived.

Would You Do One thing Nice?

A servant (once more) should come assist the soldier rethink his techniques. Right here, the ESV diverges from different main translations. The bulk translation captures the servants’ reasoning this fashion:

And his servants got here close to and spoke to him, and stated, “My father, if the prophet had advised you to do one thing nice, would you not have accomplished it? How far more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clear’?” (2 Kings 5:13 NKJV)

If Naaman was advised to win the therapeutic by conquering a military that stood between him and the Jordan, would he not have accomplished it? If the prophet advised him to recuperate the rarest plant that grew on the seabed of the Jordan, would he not have accepted the problem? However simply to go dip seven occasions — why a baby may do this.

This appeared approach too small, too unnoteworthy to be captured in tune. However Naaman, the person accustomed to doing valorous deeds should go to a river the place valor just isn’t required. He should depart his heroics on the banks, strip off his satisfaction, and bow beneath Israel’s waters. If he can be healed, he should first be humbled. He wouldn’t be saved by his good works or his nice ones.

And Naaman did what he would by no means remorse: “he went down and dipped himself seven occasions within the Jordan, in accordance with the phrase of the person of God, and his flesh was restored just like the flesh of somewhat little one, and he was clear” (2 Kings 5:14).

Have We Refused Therapeutic?

Naaman reconsidered and returned to Elisha’s door, not simply cured, however saved. He returned not solely with the flesh of the little servant Jewish woman, however together with her religion, pledging his allegiance to the one true God alone (2 Kings 5:15, 17).

Reader, take this to coronary heart: he almost turned away from therapeutic and salvation due to his sense of how he must be cured. Have issues modified at this time? What number of Naamans will lookup on the lake of fireside as a result of they regarded down upon the muddy floor of the Jordan? So many flip from the one title given beneath heaven by which males should be saved, Jesus Christ, as a result of they like the world’s Abana and Pharpar. The silly approach of religion within the crucified Messiah remains to be despised and rejected of males, “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (Isaiah 53:3; 1 Corinthians 1:23).

However Naamans additionally exist who start dipping, however don’t persevere the complete seven occasions. They depart the therapeutic tide due to a false sense of how one must be sustained within the religion. These waters don’t really feel a lot totally different from different rivers they’ve been in. They dip for a time, really feel the ordinariness of the Christian life, and stroll away from Jesus as a result of they don’t know what to do on Friday nights.

Deceived by Littleness

If solely we may see because the angels do. Let’s reimagine, for a second, a traditional exercise of the Christian life: Bible studying. Half-waking you trudge down the steps, brew some espresso, and open to the subsequent part of Scripture. You come faithfully, expectantly, however is that this what the momentous life in Christ appears to be like and appears like? This part of our Affirmation of Religion can transfigure regular occasions in his phrase:

11.1 We imagine that religion is woke up and sustained by God’s Spirit via His Phrase and prayer. The great battle of religion is fought primarily by meditating on the Scriptures and praying that God would apply them to our souls.

The great battle of religion is fought primarily by prayerful, meditative Bible studying. Listening to from our Lord, communing with him, bringing his reality into the chambers of our souls, obeying what we learn — it is a important half, a sometimes-unimpressive half, to immortality.

We don’t conquer Mount Everest or climb the treetops of the Amazon to obtain particular revelation and feed religion — we meet Jesus upon the slim approach, the onerous approach, the easy approach of Bible meditation within the Spirit and prayer. Will we take it with no consideration? A few of us should be requested: If Jesus dwelled within the Everglades or resided on the moon, and we had been advised we may hear from him, study from him, and obtain everlasting life from him there, would you not make valiant efforts to go to him? Then why do we have now three translations of the Bible in our houses that go unread?

As with Elisha, the phrase comes not in theatrics — not in hearth, in thunder, in earthquake — however in a whisper. Will we hear it? As one commentator says, “God usually assessments us with small issues” (Donald Wiseman, 1 and a pair of Kings: An Introduction and Commentary, 220). Don’t be deceived by the littleness of the extraordinary technique of grace into neglecting them.

Right down to the River

This worn path to glory is precisely the way it must be. Why? As a result of the story already has a Hero. Ours are usually not the shoulders to bear eternity; we’re not those to crush the serpent’s cranium; the spectacle was achieved by the God-man upon the cross and encored at his resurrection. As Naaman, we’re not saved by our good or nice works, earlier than or after coming to religion; we’re saved by his that no man might boast within the presence of God.

So, we quietly go all the way down to the river, or all the way down to the lounge, or all the way down to the church gathering, or simply all the way down to our knees, and obtain from his spoils. We plunge time and again beneath the waters, and belief him to proceed to heal us and maintain us from one diploma of glory to the subsequent. We obey his phrase and imagine his guarantees that he shall end what he started. We don’t tire of this heavenly manna that sustains our souls in favor of Egypt’s steak. Though we’re not usually doing something extraordinary, one thing extraordinary is occurring: God is strolling with us, encouraging us, conforming us to his Son’s picture, main us house.

We don’t do nice issues for salvation, nor will we profit God in any respect with our wealth. He provides all of our wants within the particular person and work of his Son, and will get the glory for it. However we do obtain one thing if we proceed upon this humble approach: pleasure now and eternity with him.

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