Sermons

Summary: Human Obstacles to God

story begin with Naaman, commander of the army of the king, a great man in high favor with his master. The narrator paints a very big picture. This is an important man, a four-star general, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decorated for military victories, in favor with the king, one of the inner circle. Naaman was somebody to reckon with. That’s how the narrator begins. We have to see that this man is powerful in every way, but then the story takes a turn. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. The picture of Naaman shifts in our mind. All the greatness described at the start can’t change this one terrible truth. He suffers from leprosy. A mighty warrior but infected with a disease – Lev 13

Then someone else enters the story-very different from the mighty warrior. She is a slave, carried off in a raid into Israel. Mighty warriors were accustomed to such booty-gold, silver, chariots, horses, and slaves. They could have what they wanted. This particular slave girl had been carried from her home and now served Naaman’s wife. She is as small as Naaman is big. The power he has is the power she lacks. Yet, she is not silent. "If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria," she told her mistress, "he would cure him of his leprosy." Now why did this young girl care about this man whose army had carried her away from her own people? First of five Human Obstacles for God

• Obstacles for God “Not One of Us” From all indications, it would appear that the Syrians are enemies and not allies of Israel. The young girl who speaks of the prophet in Samaria is a captive. Yet, the writer of 2 Kings chose to describe Naaman’s successes as having come from God (verse 1). The answer lies partially in the Old Testament worldview that God is not a regional god, that victory belongs to God (Proverbs 21:31), and that favor is God’s prerogative (Jeremiah 27:5-6).

• Obstacle of God “It’s beneath me”

• Obstacle of God “I don’t want too” - Resistance to doing it God’s way (for God’s Glory)

• Obstacle of God “It’s not good enough” Unwilling to the little seemingly unpleasant things – too good to do it

• But when resistance is gone and obedience rules

• God can and does work his way

• Naaman is cleasnsed

• Second leper – one of the “good” guys

• 5th –most dangersous and damaging Obstacle for God – “I’ve got a better plan” did what he thought was the right godly but it wasn’t what Jesus told him to do. And so Jesus could do what he had intended or hoped to do.

• Jesus does not wish to be misunderstood: he is not just some wonder worker --physical healing is only an indicator of the Kingdom. For the man to be readmitted to Jewish society, the healing needs to be confirmed by a "priest" (v. 44) - a requirement of Mosaic law ("what Moses commanded"). Leviticus 14 requires him to make certain sacrifices ("offer for your cleansing") so he could be ritually purified. (The "testimony to them" may either be to the crowds or be to the power of God now available to all believers.) Lest he be misunderstood, Jesus continues his ministry secretly, "out in the country" (v. 45), away from the crowds. -But unlike Naaman, the leperer healed by Jesus did not need "the right connections" to have access to Jesus, and he went to him directly for help. No gifts are lavished upon Jesus, no ritual is required and no one "worked the system." Rev. Sr. Thea Joy Browne

• -Like lepers, we are cleansed by the love of God working among us and within us. That is what healing is about and what wholeness is about and what the church and the kingdom of God are all about. Buechner

• the only keeping God from working is US and the obstacles we put up

• The only thing that breaks through is love…servant girl and god’s love….and obstacles can only be over come by obedience not just in the big things but in the little seemingly insignificant and undesirable things

Healing for all, obedience is the key, God works in the small/little/weak/unseemingly, God’s will/God’s glory/God’s way

Obstacles for God: our unwillingness to be humbled, our unwillingness to get dirty; our unwillingness to hear and obey in ALL things.

Cleansing – restoration of community not perfect solutions, Naaman not one of them, leper didn’t do

Everything God told him to do even though it looked like it, both had been resistant to doing God’s way but in the end both were healed and both were restored to community

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