Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
2 Kings 5: 1 -19 - Ninth sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 8 July 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey
I acknowledge the input from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity into the contents of this sermon.
Namaan, the powerful general from Aram, was suddenly powerless due to a skin affliction– where political might and military prowess could not help him.
In looking at a counter-culture, it would be useful to define what 'culture' is. Archbishop Derek Warlock, the former Archbishop of Liverpool, has stated that ‘Culture is the way we do things round here.’
We are often aware of culture when go into another context – e.g. going abroad, hospitality, friends, adult/child relationships.
All families, companies and societies have cultures (values) - sometimes they are are not as helpful as they could be (as we have seen in the recent banking scandals).
Culture knows things but cannot make decisions relating to it – opposite to Matthew 22: 37 – 40 where it says that we are to 'Love the lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind' and then (as a result of the first commandment) 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'
Interestingly, Roy Hattersley wrote in The Guardian (12 September 2005): ‘We atheists have to accept that most believers are better human beings.’
We shall see two people (the unnamed servant girl and the prophet Elisha) who moved against the prevalent culture as they were in tune with the Kingdom of God.
1. The servant
The servant was not even a teenager and she was not even named; but she had an impact on whole Aramean army so that the court knew that God cure leprosy as did the Israelite court.
The servant was in:
· Wrong country
· Wrong place
· Wrong job
· With wrong people
· Possibly the wrong future
She had deep faith in God, though no-one healed of leprosy in those days (Luke 4: 27)
BUT, through her words and actions, Namaan was convinced.
Her attitude was that she was not:
· Angry with God, but clear headed so that her witness was strong
· Vengeful, but compassionate (full of forgiveness and had lack of revenge)
· Faithless, but full of faith
· Timid (for as a girl, a foreigner and a slave, which put her at the bottom of the social strata) but bold (with a loving heart and full of compassion)
· Demotivated but credible
It is not necessary to do add new things to your life, but to achieve what God wants you to do where you are.
He had to deal with the culture within a country that had previously sought God, when it is remembered that Israel had been ruled over by David and Solomon. It is like this country which has experienced godly leadership in the past and a Christian heritage, which has now been sidelined and thought of as being irrelevant.
He made known to Joram, king of Israel, that God was still active and relevant
Elisha did not bow to the demands of Namaan, however attractive they might have been in order to get the foreign person off Israelite soil. Elisha did not submit to the ‘if it feels good, it must be right’ philosophy and easy believism in order to make it easier for Namaan.
Namaan had wanted easy option, but he needed to learn humility, which is not easy for the ego to overcome.
In the narratives of Elijah and Elisha, this is only example of non-Israelite worshipping God – Elisha must have hoped for easier circumstances, at least of someone who had previously shown an interest – not someone who was hostile to God’s people
Elisha was aware that God does good to all, even if people do not acknowledge it, so that all would turn to Him, whatever the circumstances.
3. Our attitude
· Eyes to see what’s happening (need to read newspapers, listen to the radio, look at the intranet)
· Eyes to see what might be (it is not enough to moan, but we should see the possibilities that God has in store)
· Eyes to see what God is doing (He is working in this nation in bringing people to Himself and to stir His people to action)
We need to ask how our actions will affect our relationships with those around us.
Modern culture is overloaded – there are the symptoms of stress (which the cause of so many illnesses), fatigue, and individualism.
We live and consume culture like everyone else, but then we do not engage with it. However, we should since:
· It determines a society’s religious and philosophical commitments, resulting to ethics and morals.