Monday, May 7, 2012

Over complicated

Have you ever done something and realized you did it the hard way? Or have you ever had someone come up to you after you just did something and said "Why did you have to make it so complicated, all you had to do was... I remember one time I was making my wife homemade Belgian waffles. For the topping I was making some hand-whipped cream. I put the ingredients in the bowl, grabbed a spoon and began stirring. I stirred and stirred and stirred until the cream finally thickened up. As we were eating I was telling her about how I wore myself out beating the cream by hand. She looked at me as if I were crazy and asked why I did not grab the electric mixer out of the cabinet. Duh! I did not even think about the electric mixer! As I was reading the other day I came across a story that made me think about this.

II Kings 5: 1-14

 1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

 2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

 7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “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 Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.
Naaman seems to get a little miffed that Elisha did not do something difficult or miraculous. Maybe if Elisha would have asked Naaman to capture a wild bull with his bear hands, slaughter it and drag it 5 miles to the nearest altar where he would then be required to dress in a certain way, say several prayers and then walk back home he might have gone..."OK! Sounds reasonable to me!"

How often in the Christian life do we do something similar? How often do we try to figure out how to make something more complicated than simply repenting, more complicated than saying we are sorry. Instead of going to our brother or sister in Christ and saying "hey you offended me and I want to get it right" we would rather talk to everyone about it, bring it up in a deacons meeting, try to get the women's auxiliary to see it our way. But most of what we are told to do in scripture is very simple and very basic. I think God made it that way because we try so hard to complicate the most basic commands. We try really hard to make things much more difficult than they really are.

God has given us his word to guide us, to show us who he is and how much he loves us. He loved us enough to send his son to die for us. He could have made salvation something as difficult as following the rituals in the Old Testament but he didn't, he made it simple. Our salvation is based on our believing in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Ephesians 2: 8, 9 - 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

II Timothy 1:8-10 - 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Titus 3: 4, 5 - But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit
Don't make the gift of salvation any more complicated than it is and don't make it too simple. Don't be a Naaman and get upset that it is not more complicated than it is. Just like Elisha told Naaman how to be physically healed, God is the author of salvation and he gets to tell us how to be spiritually healed.

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