Summary: A sermon about overcoming pride.
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
This has been some week, to say the least!!!
Here in the South, the death toll from Wednesday’s storms keeps rising.
At least 340 people were killed across 7 states.
In our area, it is estimated that 78 persons lost their lives.
In Chattanooga, upwards of 93,000 people lost power, and in Alabama that number is up around a million.
There is something sobering about losing power.
There is no more cable t-v.
The food goes bad in the refrigerator.
Gas pumps no longer work.
Internet access is reduced to your smart phone, which quickly loses its battery power and can only be brought back to life by recharging it with electricity.
And strange things happen.
For instance, many of us get to know our neighbors for the first time.
Priorities change, suddenly.
This week’s tornadoes devastated the infrastructure of emergency safety workers.
In Alabama, emergency buildings were wiped out, bodies were being stored in refrigerated trucks, and authorities were left to beg for such basics as flashlights.
In one neighborhood, the storms even left firefighters to work without a truck!
As a result, volunteers stepped in
almost as soon as the storms passed.
People ditched their jobs, shelled out their paychecks, and donated blood.
I read one article which stated that, “the tornadoes have reminded us that even with all of our technology, we are still no match for Mother Nature.”
In other words, we are “mighty, but.”
In our Old Testament Lesson for this morning, we come face to face with a man named Naaman, the
military commander of the Aramean army.
Naaman is a very great man who has recieved the favor of the King of Aram, Syria, because of his victory over Israel.
But as great as Naaman is portrayed to be, there was something wrong, and his problem is introduced
with the three-letter conjunction “but.”
That small word changes everything.
How many of us have that small word in our lives that changes everything?
She’s the most beautiful model in the world, but she has a lousy personality.
He’s very successful at his job.
He makes oodles of money, but his wife and children hate him.
A colleague of mine told me that when he began serving at his present
appointment...everything seemed to be going great.
Then one evening he got a telephone call from a parishioner.
“Pastor, you are doing a great job here, but....”
We all have this word in our lives.
None of us are perfect.
No one has it all together.
And in Naaman’s case, in spite of all his accomplishments, his power, and his prestige, there was
something else that was actually controlling and defining this Mighty man’s life.
Naaman was a leper.
And although Naaman’s leprosy was probably not the most serious form, it was a skin disease that
carried with it a certain social stigma.
He was now Leper Naaman, Commander of the army.
And this meant that Naaman was an outcast, a person who was to be avoided, a person who would be
devoid of all human touch.
Mighty Naaman would now be treated as an object of disgust.
Living in Naaman’s household, was a girl who had been taken captive from the land of Israel.
She was a servant to Naaman’s wife.
Instead of being bitter and thinking, “Let him die; he’s getting exactly what he deserves,” this servant girl informed her mistress that there was a prophet in Samaria who could cure Naaman of his leprosy.
And thus, we once more, have a minor biblical character who takes on a major role.
Little did this humble Hebrew girl realize that her unselfish faith in God would change the fate of Naaman’s life forever.
She didn’t hide her faith, she used it.
Who knows what God will do with our faith if we are only willing to unselfishly share it with others?
The very beginning of the number one top news story in the world yesterday started with, “Church groups, students and other volunteers worked aggressively Saturday to bring food, water and other necessities to communities ravaged by the second deadliest day of tornadoes in history.”
How often do “church groups” start off the number one story on the world AP Press?
Priorities can be changed in a heartbeat.
We’ve got so much technology and so much knowledge.
But none of this compares to the power of Christ and Christ’s Church.
When it all comes down to it, we have God and the Church.
Jesus is the Light of the World, and we are called to be that Light as well.
There is nothing like the darkness to cause that Light to shine so that it can be seen for what it is.