Summary: In 2 Kings there is an interesting story about a Syrian general, a Jewish prophet, & his assistant. It is about a pagan who finds God, & a Jew who finds that he hasn’t fooled God.
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
ILL. The Gallup Poll organization took a survey a few years ago on the church habits of American people & came up with an interesting statistic. They reported that 6 out of every 10 people surveyed said that they had been an active part of some significant religious worship time during that year.
I don’t mean that they just went to church once or twice during that year, but they felt that they had really been involved in their churches, & not just simply in having their name on a church roll. 60% of the people in the U.S. said, "We have been active in our church & in our worship."
So the Gallup organization came up with this conclusion, "More people are going to church & taking their religion seriously than in many years."
A. That’s the good news. But there is bad news, also. Even while this religious renewal was going on, surveys showed that 3/4ths of the attendance in the movie houses were people attending "R" & "X" rated movies. Child abuse & pornography were also reaching new heights, or should I say "new lows"?
As a result, several newspapers began pointing out that there is a correlation between what people see & read, & what they do. They would report on a violent crime, & then point out that exactly the same kind of crime had been presented that week on primetime TV."
ILL. Do you remember reading this article in the newspaper, "GIRL ACCUSED OF PRINCIPAL POISONING TRY"? It says, "An 11-year-old girl tried to poison her principal in an attempt to prevent her parents from learning that she had been in a fight at school, police said. The 5th grader had a classmate deliver a cupcake containing three pellets of rat poison to Zona Jefferson, principal of Alice Drive Elementary School."
The article goes on to report, "The poisoning attempt was the second this school year by an elementary student in this city. In September, a student tried to poison his teacher because she wouldn’t let him go out for recess. That incident also involved rat poison."
"Police said the 9-year-old boy put poison in his teacher’s iced tea after he got the idea from the movie `Heathers,’ in which a teen-ager poisoned her classmates."
Another newspaper told about a man arrested for molestation. It reported that when the authorities went to his house they found stacks of pornography portraying that same kind of behavior.
In response to such news items, one newspaper received this letter, "Yes, it is true. I admit to reading Penthouse & Hustler magazines & viewing the Playboy Channel. I am also proud to say that I am a devout Christian."
But I wonder? How can he call himself a "devout Christian" when the Bible clearly says, "Brothers...whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure...let your mind dwell on these things" for "among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity...because these are improper for God’s holy people?" [Philippians 4:8; Galatians 5:3]
ILL. Just a few years ago the results of another survey was announced. It found that 45% of those who regularly attend church said that they didn’t let their religion affect the way they lived their lives.
But that does begin to explain something, doesn’t it? How could 3/4ths of the movies be "R" & "X" rated unless so-called Christians are attending them? How could some of our prime-time TV shows be so popular unless so-called Christians are watching them? How could pornography be so prevalent unless so-called Christians are engaged in it?
Remember, Jesus said that "not everyone who says to me `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven." It is not just what we say, but what we do.
PROP. With that in mind, there is an interesting story in the 5th chapter of 2 Kings about a Syrian general, a Jewish prophet, & his assistant. It is about a pagan who finds God, & of a Jew who finds that he hasn’t fooled God.
I. THE STORY
A. As we look at the 5th chapter of 2 Kings, we find that the Syrians have been sending raiding parties into the land of Israel. One captive they bring back to Syria is a young Jewish girl who becomes a servant in the house of Naaman, commander of the Syrian armies.
Now Naaman had a very serious problem, & so far only a few people knew it. He had leprosy, a disease that attacks the nerve system of the body. Naaman was losing all sense of feeling in his body. He could no longer feel the hilt of his sword as he clutched it in his hand.
His men thought that he was courageous in battle because when an arrow hit his leg - he did not react. They interpreted that as toughness - but Naaman knew the sickening truth that he could not even feel the arrow as it ripped into his leg.