Are we independent?
Today we celebrate the Independence of our country. We won our Independence from the Great Britain on July 4, 1776. Our ancestors fought the fight and won the victory. Now we suppose to enjoy the fruit of the victory: Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness.
However, not many people enjoy life and liberty. Many people did not know how to pursue happiness. God wants us to be truly independent to enjoy life and liberty. God wants us to have abundant and happy life.
Some people cannot enjoy life because of their physical conditions.
In the Old Testament reading for today, we see a man, Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. He had had money, power, fame, title, and all the necessary conditions to be happy. However, he could not enjoy his life. He was not happy because of his physical challenges.
God can cure us.
God can cure our physical illness. There are so many miraculous healing stories in the Bible. There are also so many testimonies and stories of physical healing that we can hear from our church members. This is one of such stories. It can be your story also. Let us examine what happened.
Naaman listened to a nameless slave girl’s recommendation and acted upon it.
When Aram army had gone out, Naaman had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Naaman could have ignored what a nameless slave girl said to his wife. However, he went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. We can tell that Naaman was a humble and caring person.
Then Naaman went to his master, Aram King. The Aram King could have dismissed his request. However, the Aram king wrote a letter to the king of Israel. He even gave ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing as gifts to Israel King. 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.” This shows that Naaman was honored and trusted by his master.
Naaman listened to the advice of his servants.
When Naaman came to Israel, he was directed to a prophet Elisha. 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.”
Naaman’s first reaction was anger. He 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. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
However, 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’!”
Here is Naaman’s greatness. He listened to his servants as he listened to the slave girl at home. 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.
God can cure us, but we need to listen to the advices of others who care for us.
When God cures us, God uses many people who care for us. Here, God used a slave girl, Naamna’s wife, Aram King, Elisha, and Naama’s servants. Whose voices and advices do you need to listen to experience cure? Doctors, nurses, therapists, pastors, family members, and friends are all good channels of God’s cure. If we ignore all the advices, God cannot answer to our prayers.
Cure and Healing are two different experiences.
One thing I want to make clear. Cure is restoration of physical condition. Healing is more comprehensive. Even when our physical condition gets worse, we can be healed. For example, Apostle Paul was not cured, but he was healed. He understood that God’s grace was enough and accepted his physical condition as a channel of God’s blessings. Sometimes we experience healing without cure, and still have life, liberty and happiness.
Some people are physically healthy, but still not free from bondages.
In Galatians reading, we can meet those people. Physically, they are healthy but still trapped in their flesh. They try to impress others with their “flesh.” Paul said that they want to boast about their flesh. Paul illustrated his case with circumcision. However, many other things can be “our” flesh: Riches, Titles, Positions, Achievements, Relationships, and Reputations.
Apostle Paul said that he would not boast other than the Christ crucified on the Cross. We are all sinners saved by the Grace of God through the Sacrificial Death of Christ Jesus.
When we rely on “Fake gods” “idols” “Counterfeit gods” so called “flesh” we are destined to be doomed. They lure us to give everything to them and destroy us. Did you hear stories of people who won Jack Pots? Some people became slaves to money, fame, and looks. They die with regrets. Some people are obsessed with moral righteousness and judge others with rules and regulations. They cannot free themselves from the legalism and die with it.
Jesus wants us to be free from all these traps and have life, liberty, and happiness.
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fulI.” (John 10:10). Here, the thief is the one who advocates “flesh” “idols” “fake gods” and “counterfeit gods.” In Galatians they are circumcisers.
To free God’s people from the “thief,” Jesus called disciples. Jesus sent 72 disciples to free people from this bondage. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.” We are also called to do this ministry.
We are more than what we do. Our identity is more important than our performance.
However, let us remember that we are more than what we do. Many times, we feel that we are useless when we are getting older and weaker. We feel that there are not many things that we can do. Once I visited a church member who are bed-ridden. She said, “Pastor Lee, I cannot give much. I cannot move much. There are not many things I can do.” I said to her, “But you are a child of God whom God loves. You are a great testimony of God’s love. You have shown us that we do not do anything to make God loves us more. God loves us no matter what. Your being is your testimony.” Jesus said to his disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
If we are blessed only when we do mission and ministry, we support the advocates of the “flesh.” We are saved by God’s grace even when we do not deserve it. When we are truly free from the “flesh,” we are truly independent. Then we can witness to God’s Grace and unconditional love by our being. This is true healing. Even my situations and circumstances are still same, I am now free from those conditions. Then we can say, “I am not a thermometer but thermostat. I am not affected by the conditions, but I am going to change the conditions!”
Congratulations! Now you are truly independent. Happy Independence Day! Hallellujah!