2 Kings 4-7, Psalm 102
People desire complicated formulas or programs to be cured or gather insight. There are 12 step programs with difficult but “worthwhile” changes which must be implemented for a wide host of issues. The intricacy of these regimens convinces them that it must be the right formula. As opposed to the world’s solutions, God often offers simple and straightforward solutions with guaranteed results. But the world now, as well as then is often deaf to this advice.
Elisha’s prophetical words were so simple and straightforward, but we see in today’s readings, that time and time again they were not initially accepted by the people. There were many reasons for this. For Naaman, it was pride, when Elisha, himself, did not go out to meet him and the solution seemed too simple as we read in 2 Kings 5:10-11, “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to meet me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy’.” For Gehazi, it was greed. After hearing the reason for Elisha not accepting Naaman’s gifts in 2 Kings 5:16, Gehazi’s desire for riches overruled the sound direction of Elisha. For the King of Israel in 2 Kings 7:12, it was unbelief. Despite hearing Elisha’s prophecy, his unbelief blinded him to the reason for the Syrians fleeing.
Like Elisha’s words, the Gospel message is so simple, but we are surrounded by people who refuse to accept it. Many do so for similar reasons as those in today’s readings’, pride, greed, and unbelief. Paul encountered this same resistance to the simple Gospel message, and described it 1 Corinthians 1:18-28. In v.22, Paul says, “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”. He goes on in 1 Corinthians 1:27 and says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. In Psalm 51, David realizes it was not sacrifices or burnt offerings God desired, but a broken spirit and a contrite heart. We need to empty ourselves so that we can actually hear the truth behind the message. The Gospel message is so simple, and requires so little from us, but required so much from Jesus. As we go out and share the Gospel message, let us remind others that it is never about what we do, but about what He did.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: