Naaman was a powerful man, a commander in his countries army, he looked like he had it all together, that he was winning. Unfortunately he had leprosy which was all bad news. It caused bits to um, fall off, as you lose feeling and get infections and stuff like that. It was contagious and incurable.
Long story short, Naaman had a slave girl who told Naaman’s wife that the God of Israel could heal him and to visit the prophet Elisha. So Naaman got his posse together and hopped in a convoy of VW Camels and high tailed it to Israel.
Where Naaman faced a “get real moment”.
Naaman was important. He had an image. He had a reputation. He was The Man. He probably wasn’t posting selfies with the leprosy but in those days he probably could have “covered it up” both literally and figuratively. He had issues both on the surface and under the surface.
And I mean don’t we all.
Don’t we all have things that we hide from everyone, including ourselves? Things we’re not coping with. Things we’re struggling with. Doubt. Insecurity. Fear. Failure. Black and white sin. It’s all like a leprosy of the soul.
In 2 Kings 5:1 we read that he was a great leader and highly regarded by the king, BUT he had leprosy. But. We’ve all got a but. Both literally and figuratively.
But I also want you to know that no matter what is going on in your life you are awesome. YOU are awesome. YOU are awesome. You are created by an amazing God who doesn’t make junk and who designed you with thought and consideration. You are loved by God but get this, He likes you. Unconditionally. Uncontainably. Unquestionably. You are awesome. Don’t let whatever is going on in your life to bully you into thinking you’re not okay. You’re more than okay and I know I can say about each one of you here that WE like you and think you’re amazing and are so glad that you’re here.
Anyway, back to Naaman. He’s knocks on the prophet’s door. Out comes a servant with a message from the prophet.
“Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”
11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?”
This is Naaman’s get real moment. And there are 3 things we can learn from it.
- GET REAL about right now
Naaman had to get real with himself. His condition. He had to acknowledge that something was wrong and that he couldn’t fix it. How real are you being about yourself? What bits have fallen off because you aren’t ready to ask for help? Sometime the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step. Have a brave conversation with someone, a friend, a housegroup leader, a mentor. Get real. Nothing will change in your life until you get real about where you are right now and then do something about it.
- GET REAL help from a real God
Naaman had to get real with God. He had to then humble himself to reach out to a very real God. No matter what condition you see yourself as you are never too whatever for God to love and for God to reach out and touch. Jesus proved that when he touched real lepers and healed them. Jesus is unafraid of your whatever. It’s not too hard or too big. God loves you. He likes you. He wants you to get real so that you can get whole. He has a great plan for your life, that involves yes, lots of challenges and changes, but involves living whole and connected to Him.
Naaman had to get real and see that God was real and powerful and able. Do you know that God is powerful and able and wants to change your life from the inside out? He wants to be the anchor for your life, the best friend that is with you each step of the way and to take you on adventures that will blow your mind.
- GET REAL with what God says
Naaman had to get real with what God said. Elisha gave instructions for Naaman to wash in the Jordan River and dip in it 7 times. Now would you rather swim at Papaoma Beach, or Papamoa Sewage Treatment Faciility? It didn’t make sense for Naaman. But it made sense to God. Naaman at first resisted, threw up his hands at the idea. But then relented and did this crazy thing the prophet suggested. He went into the water, dipped 7 times and came out completely healed.
We cannot live life our own way. It is God’s way, only God’s way and you will find when you try to do it on your own or make up your own rules or bend the rules that things just don’t feel right anymore. You’re distancing yourself from a holy God who calls us walk in His ways. Imagine if Naaman just went back to his own rivers and dipped in them. Do you think he would get healed? Nope.
Living for Jesus and being a Christian can seem completely counter culture. The world says do this and God is like, not a good idea. The world says think like this, and God is like, not a good idea. God shows us a better way – a blessed way and yip, it is different from what the world says. But we’re not made to fit in. We’re meant to be living to a different beat. We have to get real and live the way God says. It’s for our benefit. God is not a kill joy. He is a good good father.
Jesus said a whole bunch of things that are totally upside down but that show us what getting real means to Him.
Matthew 16: 24-25 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”
John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commands.”
Mark 10:44 Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.
Here are 2 things you can do to get real and live counter culturally.
- Find out what God wants – Read the Bible regularly. Read about the heart and ways of God. Get a plan and get someone that you can talk to about it. Then as Shia would say, just do it. Pray, hang out with God. Hanging out with God awakens that sense of wonder with how amazing God is and how much He loves us and that, not rules or regulations, but real relationship, is what keeps the fire going and helps us live counter culture. Conviction from the Word then must lead to courage in the world. You’re not made to fit in this world, you are made for another world.
- Define what you’re for. It’s not about what we’re against it’s about what we’re for. Living counter culturally doesn’t mean we suck on a lemon, we give people the big dislike button for swearing or saying something offensive. It doesn’t mean we live by a set of rules and if you can’t and don’t then sux to be you. We don’t want to be moralistic, intolerant or judgemental. You know that is what the Pharisees did and man Jesus did not like that! We want to be known for what we are for. Christians should be the people everyone turns to for help and advice. We should be a safe place for people to be themselves. We need to live from that position of FOR. When we make a choice to avoid certain behaviours and influences we are making a choice FOR something greater. We are for living for God. We are for love. We are for grace. We are for living the dream. We are for awesome relationships. We are for living generously. We are for authenticity. We are for friendship and helping people discover Jesus. We are for the good things of God.
Romans 12:1-2 in the Message version says : So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The same invitation is there for each one of us.
There might be something you need to get real about. God invites you to be real with Him. He knows our thoughts before we even think them, so He knows our hearts, our fears, our failures. And He welcomes you, leprosy and all.
God invites you to know that He is real and amazing. Beyond what you can imagine.
And He invites you to really live for Him.
- notes from my message Friday night at HKC youth – new series GET REAL