Wonder of God Meditations 15: Worldly Ways
2 Kings 5:5 “the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”
There are so many facets to this story that should teach us so much. Now we watch as we see Naaman go and ask his king for permission to go to Israel, which was the right thing to do, acknowledgement of his king’s sovereignty. So far so good. But then the king does what kings do: “I’ll send a letter.” i.e. I’ll use my royal position to pave the way for you.
The truth is that we like to help God along sometimes. Sarai (Gen 16:1,2) did it with Abram with disastrous long-term results. We do it by trying to impress God to get Him to love us, we try to use our efforts to do His works, but the truth is that He loves us anyway, we didn’t contribute anything to our salvation – except our surrender – and when it comes to serving Him, as Jesus said, “apart from me you can do NOTHING.” (Jn 15:5) Don’t trust in YOUR goodness or YOUR good works, only in Him.
Now one might hope that this is the big distinguishing feature that marks off believers from unbelievers. We know unbelievers will always look to their own efforts, their own plans, their own strengths, and their own skills, always leaving God out of the equation and, let’s be honest, they do sometimes achieve great things on their own. Great athletes, great sports men and woman, can rise to the peak of physical achievement – even apparently without God, but that is just a sign of what is called ‘common grace’, God blessing all with abilities and it is up to us how we use them or develop them. But essentially the unbeliever is godless.
But then we turn to the believing community and observe. What do we see? A few godly souls who make God the centre of everything they do but, let’s be honest, the majority spend most of the day NOT referring to God, not seeking His help, not seeking His strength, His wisdom etc. The truth is that we’re just slow learners and so it usually takes many years to realize the reality of Jesus’ words, “apart from me you can do NOTHING.” Oh yes, we can DO stuff but what do we achieve? Do we see the rule or kingdom of God being extended by our activities, do we see lives changed, communities being changed by the things we do, things directed and empowered by the Spirit? I ask these not to create guilt (that is already there) but to open our eyes to realities and to provoke us to prayer to seek vision, hope, power, change. This king sending a letter to another king was only going to cause upset. There is a better way and we’ll see it shortly.