Summary: This sermon helps us realize that God’s way is not always the way we think it should be.
Turn with me to II Kings 5. This is a familiar story to many. It is one of those stories I remember from Sunday school when I was a kid. I always thought this was a story of healing, and it is to a degree, but it is more a story of faith and obedience. It’s a story about relying on God and his direction rather than our own inclinations about what we should do. It’s about listening to him and putting his plan into action.
God wants to make himself known to people, and this is a story about one time that he did so, and he wants to do it again.
Read II Kings 5:1-14.
Greatness Isn’t Always What It Appears
“Ernie Davis succeeded at every venue, a three-sport standout in high school, a two-time All-American halfback at Syracuse.
“He led Elmira (N.Y.) Free Academy to a 52-game winning streak in basketball and as a Syracuse sophomore helped the Orangeman gain their only national football championship. As a senior in 1961, he became the first African-American to receive the Heisman Trophy and was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
“And then, stunningly, he was gone. Struck down by leukemia, Davis never realized his dream of playing in the NFL.”
Ernie Davis was an incredible physical specimen. He was an incredible athlete. Perhaps the greatest running back in the history of pro football, Jim Brown, attended Syracuse University a few years before Davis. Davis broke Jim Brown’s school records for rushing yards and points scored. He won the highest award in college football, the Heisman Trophy, and Jim Brown never did that. Ernie Davis met the President of the United States after the Heisman award ceremony. He was the first player selected by any pro football team the year he graduated from college. He signed the largest contract in pro football history up to that point. He was a mighty man. By all accounts he was a decent human being. “BUT!” But, he had leukemia.
Look at verse 1, “Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, BUT he was a leper.”
Naaman was the military genius behind the Syrian army. He was successful. He was mighty. He was big and powerful. People looked up to him. He had servants who waited on him. He was probably the king’s top advisor, at least in military matters. “BUT!” But, he was a leper.
Just because something or someone looks healthy or appears to be great on the surface doesn’t mean that is the case. True greatness has nothing to do with outward appearances.
The same can be said of institutions. Look at Enron and WorldCom. Both companies appeared to be strong viable companies, but both were rotten with the cancer of corporate greed.
Can the same be said about churches? Just because a church is bigger, doesn’t mean it’s better.
Faithfulness is what is important.
Faithfulness of the Servant
We are servants of Christ. We must be faithful to him and his desire to have a relationship with others.
We think of the faithfulness of servants of the Lord like Mother Theresa. She spent her life working in the streets of Calcutta, India with people called “untouchables.” The caste system of India had declared these people sub-human, but Mother Theresa invested her life sharing Christ with these people. She went about her life with little fanfare. Wherever she went, she was the main attraction, but she always tried to duck the spotlight. Hers was a life of dedicated service to the Lord. She was all about doing the work of the Lord among people whom he had created. To look at her, you would notice nothing special about her appearance, outside of the habit of her order. She was not a giant of a person. She was nothing special, other than her faith in God, and her commitment to serve humanity.
This just goes to show that the message of God comes through unusual means sometimes. We would expect God to use the big and strong, but instead he often uses the small and weak.
Look at verse 2-3. The Syrians were engaging in border skirmishes with Israel rather frequently, and during one of the raids, they captured a girl. The girl went to live with Naaman and serve Mrs. Naaman. They probably treated her well, but the fact remains that they had kidnapped her from her home and parents. This little girl could have hated her captors, and no one would blame her. She had concern for her master. She knew of God’s prophet who lived in Samaria. She was concerned enough for captor, that she encouraged him to seek help.