Lectionary: Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, Psalm 66:1-12; 111, 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c, 2 Timothy 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19
Evangelism: Unlikely Influence – written by Jonathan Shively
Focus Text: 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c
This week’s text from 2 Kings brings together some high-powered players. The King of Israel, the prophet Elisha, and Aram’s army commander Naaman are movers and shakers. Yet none of these characters makes the primary difference in this drama. The King of Israel is self-protective and anxious. Naaman is self-righteous and indignant. Elisha is matter-of-fact. But the difference-makers are the nearly invisible characters, those without names. The young captive girl servant recommends that Naaman seek a cure among his enemies. Desperate for a cure, he listens. Then Naaman’s own servants encourage him to take Elisha’s seemingly simplistic advice seriously.
Two perceptions on this situation. First, the opportunity to speak about one’s faith for the benefit of another knows no limitations. The captive servant girl and the servants to the commander perhaps over-stepped their boundaries in offering their advice, but Naaman was ready to receive their counsel. These servants offered hope to a leader who was grasping at straws. Second, becoming available for the work of God in one’s life is a process. Naaman’s conversion took time and multiple witnesses. As those who bear witness to God, we are to be prepared for the opportunistic part that we might play in another person’s journey toward personal healing and cultivating a relationship with God.
Questions for reflection:
Where in today’s texts do you witness servants of God coming alongside those who are on a journey toward God?
Where in your life today do you have the opportunity to come alongside someone who is on the journey toward Jesus?
As in the case of Naaman’s wife, how might you help the testimony of another be articulated and heard?
“To be an evangelist is to be a sign of hope, a servant of hope, a minister of hope.” Mortimer Arias in Announcing the Reign of God: Evangelization and the Subversive Memory of Jesus, p. 89
“We [church professionals] are the ones who have vocationalized missions – not God! We, the church in the West, have taken disciple-making evangelism out of the hands of the ordinary people and turned it into a vocation for religious professionals.” Bob Roberts, Jr. in Real-time Connections: Linking Your Job to God’s Global Work, p. 50.
“This call to proclaim the Good News and to witness to it resonates with contemporary individuals. Human beings want to proclaim what is important to them, what has made a difference in their lives, and to share it with others who might benefit. A church that is alive with the spiritual power of Jesus Christ is a church that has witnessed the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and wants to share that power with others.” Bishop Claude E. Payne in Reclaiming the Great Commission: A Practical Model for Transforming Denominations and Congregations, p. 16.
“Sometimes we stand side-by-side on the platform waiting for the train and the miracle is not the meeting but the miss – we feel full already, we have enough friends.” Naomi Shihab Nye, last stanza of the poem “Brushing Lives” from Red Suitcase.
God of great works and wondrous deeds, we pause now to recount the times when you have intervened in our life through the gracious words and patient presence of inauspicious servants.
We give you thanks for the invitation to healing that you extend to those who are ill, and for the vision of restoration that gives hope to a broken world.
We give thanks for the privilege to be present among your beloved humanity, partnering with you to offer light where there is darkness, confidence where there is mistrust, promise where there is despair, life where death would reign.
Make us ready for simple opportunities to give testimony to your goodness, to join those whom you are seeking on the journey of faith. Guide us into unsuspecting moments this day, moments in which your Word speaks through us, giving testimony to you whose name we praise.
We present ourselves to you, approved and without shame, that your word of truth might be offered for the transforming of the world.
In the name of Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.