As I posted this morning about Naaman, God can be quite patient with our idol worship. Which is good, because that’s what we’re doing a lot of the time.
It is no blasphemy to say that every man creates the God creating him.
— Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss, p. 106
When our theologies land us in places where we fail to insist on justice from our own speech and actions, then we must reconsider what we think we know about God. This is a life-long project. Some of us call it holiness.
I preached on the story of Naaman a few weeks ago. He was the commander of the army of one of Israel’s enemies. He was also a leper. He went to Israel to seek healing at the advice of an Israelite slave girl serving in his house (I told you they were enemies). The prophet Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan River, he did, and was healed. And then he went back to Elisha and they had this exchange:
Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused. “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.” “Go in peace,” Elisha said. (2 Kings 5:15-19 NIV)
Do you see what Elisha did there? He specifically gave Naaman permission to carry on with his idol worship. What Elisha does here contradicts the law of Moses, the Ten Commandments for goodness sake! Think about that the next time you worry if you or someone else is living in accordance with the law. Sometimes the prophetic word, that is the word direct from God, is “Go in peace.”