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July 29, 2017, 5:00 AM

What in your life bears witness to God and the gift of grace in Jesus?

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.” 2 Kings 5:15-19


Today’s scripture passage tells the story of Naaman, the Syrian general and his encounter with the prophet Elisha in the land of Israel.  Naaman was a ‘great man’ in ‘high favor’ in his home country of Syria where he served the King.  He was also a leper.  Naaman learns from one of his wive’s servants that he might find healing in Israel from a prophet.  So Naaman gets permission from his king, loads up a convoy full of gifts, and heads to Israel seeking the prophet and his healing.  The King of Israel admits that he is unable to heal Naaman and instead, points him to Elisha who instructs him to dip into the Jordan river seven times to ‘wash, and be clean’.  Naaman, after some grumbling, eventually obeys and behold, he is cured of his leprosy and made clean!


But what happens next is interesting.  Now clean, cured from his awful plague, Naaman has a decision to make.  Acknowledging that the God of Israel, the one true God, is real, all powerful, and capable of healing, he can choose to stay in Israel and worship or return to Syria and be forced to pray in the temple of Rimmon where his king bows down.  Naaman can remove himself from society and the life he had with high position and favor, or he can return with his healing and privately acknowledge the God of Israel.  Yet, there is a third way!  Perplexing as it seems to us, Naaman loads up with ‘two mule loads of earth’ and vows no longer to worship false gods or pray to Syrian idols, and then he heads home.


So, what’s with the dirt?  Scripture doesn’t spell out exactly how Naaman intends to use the dirt from Israel.  Some commentators speculate that he will spread it before he bows down as a symbol of the God in Israel to whom he has pledged his faith.  Or maybe he intends to always keep some nearby as testament to his new life with God, but however the expression, it is radically unique to Naaman and his experience with God.   We offer our gifts, we lift up our positions, we humbly posture ourselves to be instruments of His grace in this place where God has put us.  Doing so requires a deep connection to our Father in prayer and a spirit that is willing to obey, no matter how ‘outside the box’ the expression may look.  We take our direction from our loving Lord and trust that He will use us in His great plan to reach others for Christ. We just have to be willing to listen to Him, to look outside the box, and to step in faith into our world.


The expression of Jesus in us and through us is unique to all of us.  So, what’s your dirt? How does your faith express itself?  What in your life bears witness to God and the gift of grace in Jesus?


This my Prayer: Father God, help me to be public in my faith.  Lord help me to integrate my private life, full of Your joy and truth, into the world where You have placed me.  Jesus give me ears for Your voice, eyes for unique opportunities, and the willingness to take them, so that more people would come to know You.  In your name Jesus, Amen.

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