Wednesday, April 16, 2008

YOU do it!

This week's Bible lesson, Doctrine of Atonement, gives some pretty clear pictures of Atonement. To Christian Scientists, it's all about the at-one part, not so much about atoning for past mistakes. Included in the lesson is the story of Naaman, a mighty warrior, much loved and respected by his King, family and troops. Naaman was a leper. He was also not of the Hebrew faith. I like this man. He listened to a suggestion from one of his little captives, a Jewish girl now serving his wife. This child must have seen something worthy in her master because she tells her mistress that if he were with the prophet, Elisha, he could be healed. Her mistress passes this information along to her husband. So not only did he pay attention to his wife, he believed the child and acted on this information.

He arrives with all pomp and circumstance, in keeping with his rank, in a fine chariot drawn by horses, accompanied by his servants. Much to his displeasure, he is not greeted with his usual deference. Not only does the prophet not come out and heal him with a flashy healing, he only sends his servant with instructions to go dunk himself in the river, seven times. Naaman does not take this well. He is offended. How often people call for healing through prayer and go away insulted when the practitioner says, "OK, got it, I'll take up the case right away" and hangs up after sharing an idea or two for the patient to work with.

Naaman wanted Elisha to do something, something tangible, in front of everyone. Naaman wasn't expecting to have to do something himself. I don't think this man was used to taking orders. Yet his people truly loved him, addressing his as 'father' and urging him to do what the prophet asked. After all, he would have done something mighty, if that had been required. Wasn't it worth a healing of leprosy to just obey?

Naaman had to turn away from human doctrine, had to change his concept of atonement. One wonders what he thought about as he stepped into the shallow water and dipped himself, seven times. Seven is the number for completeness. By the time he had done this seven times, he must have felt the effects of the healing that was taking place for the Bible says his flesh was now clean and as fresh as a child's.

Next time you feel the need for healing and decide to approach that through spiritual prayer alone, be sure to come to it with the expectation of healing, knowing that even what appears to be serious or even incurable can be made whole. Be willing to do whatever it is God directs. Without arguing or taking offense. You'll walk away rejoicing.

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