Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
2 Kings 5:1-14
Luke 10:-11, 16-20
A few years ago the Staples office supply stores began airing commercials that featured the “Easy Button” that solved all the world’s hard problems. The catch-line being that there was no such thing, but they (Staples) made it easy to get all the office supplies you needed for your home or business. In the faith traditions we often focus on the challenges to overcome in order to follow God’s direction. We often preach that there is no easy way, but the passages today offer some relief from those teachings. When we realize the work comes from an all-powerful God, the work suddenly becomes much more doable.
The account of Naaman in 2 Kings is one such story in which the participants sought the challenging way. Upon learning that healing could be possible through a prophet in Israel, his king sent Naaman and a sizable “offering” of silver, gold, and robes to the king of Israel. The expectations of that time were that 1) it would cost something (an offering), and 2) the king, being king, was the prophet of God. Those assumptions nearly provoked a war as the king of Israel saw the offering and message as a taunt. Fortunately, the prophet Elisha recognized that it was an act of faith that sent Naaman to Israel and called for him to come to his house.
Elisha’s next actions dispelled the protocols of the time. He gave directions for a very simple action that would cure Naaman’s leprosy - no offering or sacrifice required. He also refused to meet Naaman face-to-face, instead sending a servant to deliver the directions. He wanted it to be clear that rank in society had nothing to do with the ability of God to act through a person and to show that Naaman’s faith led to the cure, not some miraculous power contained within the prophet himself. To put it directly: God is present even when the prophet is not.
Naaman’s challenge was accepting something so simple. As a man of his time, and one in high position, he expected experiences to play out in a certain way. Elisha’s actions violated all those expectations. It took the wisdom of those in lesser positions to convince Naaman that he should at least try what the prophet said. When he accepted the advice and bathed in the Jordan, God healed him.
Sometimes it is just that easy. God’s commands are not always hard for us to follow, but we focus so often on the trials and tribulations of being Christian that we develop a mindset that anything God calls us to do is going to require some great sacrifice. As with Naaman, the sacrifice may be a preconceived notion. We may have to sacrifice some of our “beliefs” because we have always been taught that his how to believe only to have God whisper a different message in our ear. We do not often consider changing a mindset as a great sacrifice, but the Bible is filled with stories, like Naaman (and Paul!) who had to adjust the way they believed to match the mind of God. Our deeply held beliefs guide our words and actions; changing those beliefs can be one of the biggest challenge any Christian faces. There is no “easy button” when faced with such decisions; we can only open our heart and our ears to the message God gives us now.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org