Monday, May 15, 2023

Hubris. . .

There is no shortage of pride in this world and there is no shortage of falls caused by that pride.  Not in the least of it all is the presumption that God gives suggestions which we are free to alter or ignore or even rebuke.  It is as if we have become the Naaman's of our day and age, unfamiliar with the things of God and offended by what He says.  In fact, it seems that the only time we mention God's Word anymore is to say that it cannot mean what it says or it should not say what it means or it does not matter anyway.  If I grow tired of the drumbeat of prideful arrogance on the part of those who are supposed to be His servants and agents, I can only imagine how God feels.

Although it seems to be preoccupied by the LGBTQ+ crowd or the trans inventions or the climate change deists or the diversity folk with little bits of truth everywhere or the equity people who believe it is our job to remake the world because God screwed it all up or the inclusive folks who surrender the real for the imagined ideal of every marginalized group at the table but the privileged, it is the same sin it always was.  Whether you are building towers to touch the feet of God or remaking God into a mortal with our same sins, it is the same hubris.

The story of Naaman remains one of my favorites though if I were the servant girl who had offered the intercession of the prophet and the God of Israel, I might not be so keen on him.  Naaman seems a decent enough fellow and must have been a pretty astute general since they kept him on even with his disability.  He is told to seek a cure for his leprosy from the “man of God,” Elisha.  Elisha was the  successor to Elijah as “prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:8) and the man to go to for anything from God.  In the end, this Syrian man had to be talked into making the long and somewhat difficult journey to meet up with the prophet.  He is not a fool.  Quid pro quo.  He will not beg but will pay for the cure, provided the price is reasonable.  He takes along the appropriate bags of gold and silver.  Even a cure is not worth the price quoted.  The mighty prophet Elisha tells him to bathe seven times in the Jordan and that was an inch too far for Naaman.  There are better waters than the Jordan so why should he stoop to making himself a spectacle in a foreign land when he could have stayed home and taken a dip in the mighty Damascus.  Again, his servants have to calm him down and urge him to give it a go.  He would have paid a big price or done something ? He’s about to return home in a huff when his sober minded servants plead with him to bathe in the Jordan, asking him if he would have done that which was difficult, why not do this small thing the prophet asked?  Shamed by their reason and calm, the reluctant Naaman dips into the waters of the Jordan just as Elisha had instructed him.  In an instant he is cured -- not simply of his leprosy but of his pride.  The Spirit worked repentance in his heart and brought him to faith, confessing “I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15).  Naaman seemed a decent enough chap, probably guilty of less sins that the faithful but his pride was the roadblock to God's cure and that pride was the bigger focus of God's healing than the disease.

We are in much the same boat except that where are the reasoned servants who, in their calm demeanor, expose the pride and hubris of our age?  Certainly not in the churches and pulpits of those churches where pastors have become mere echos of the age and times.  Marginalized by the media, those who stand on the shoulders of the faithful who went before and confess faithfully God's Word and truth seem hard pressed to make any difference in our age.  Just remember this -- servants without names and faces who were not even reported in Scripture were the voices that told a man full of pride where mercy lived, who God was, and to swallow hard and repent and do as God had said.  So when we look around at an age that loves to poke fun at God's Word, to ridicule and reject God's order, and to ignore Him who is the way, the truth, and the life, let there be unnamed, anonymous, and faithful voices for God will surely work through them.  Not everyone will be saved but some will hear and, hearing, believe.


No comments: