God Made a Way–But Only One


Listening to a a recent Ravi Zacharias podcast, I was overcome by a need to reiterate what the apologist shared and both simplify and unpack it further. Thus, this post.

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.

Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”

But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”

So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.
—2 Kings 5:1-16 ESV

Naaman was a great and proud man, the General Eisenhower of his time and place, but leprosy had infected him. In time, the disease would rob him of his position and place in society, as lepers were forcibly outcast by the virulence of the disease and its horrible effects. In this era, no cure existed. A diagnosis of leprosy destroyed lives. In the Bible, leprosy exemplified the physical manifestation of the sin that bedevils all our lives.

Into Naaman’s household came the lowest of the low, a little girl of foreign birth now made a slave through enemy conquest. In his desperation, Naaman listened to that pittance of a person tell of a prophet who could heal him. Interestingly, Elisha had not performed a healing miracle yet, but this girl’s faith in the God behind the prophet prevailed.

How humbling to listen to a lowly enemy then go to another enemy for help. And yet Naaman went.

Naaman washes in the Jordan RiverBut instead of facing this opposing prophet, proud Naaman, already humbled in part by leprosy, was further humbled when the prophet sent a third-rate messenger to tell him to go wash in one of Israel’s rivers.

Naaman, enraged by the slight, cried out how the rivers back home were even better than Israel’s meager Jordan . His servant pleaded, and eventually Naaman relented. And he was healed.


If you are not a believer in Jesus:

Every person believes he or she knows what is right, yet each also knows that deep down inside, something is wrong. That wrong is sin. People try all sorts of ways to deal with that sin and its consequences in life, yet everyone fails.

Jesus said this:

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
—John 14:6 ESV

Naaman lamented, ” Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?”

No. God made a way to be clean. One way. In the only waters that lived and healed.

To Naaman, it all sounded like foolishness.

People can try all sorts of ways to be clean: Buddha, Mohammed, self-fulfillment, self-mortification, this or that. But God made a way. One, exclusive way.

That way is Jesus. The living, healing water you need is found only in Him and nowhere else.

You can do what is asked by God, or you can succumb to the leprosy. But don’t say that God has not made a way. He has: Jesus.

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
—Acts 4:11-12 ESV

Lastly, God may be asking you to give up your pride and listen to one of those weird Christians you hate. The message of healing and life will likely come from someone you ordinarily disregard. That’s often how God works. Don’t let a superior attitude prevent you from humbling yourself long enough to heed what may very well save you.

If you are a Christian believer already:

Israel was filled with lepers, but they were not healed. Instead, the God of Israel healed a Syrian enemy of Israel.

God seeks out those who will believe Him, even if He must go outside the walls of the fortress to find them. Do not assume because you are inside that you will not be considered an outsider–and the outsider an insider.

Naaman listened to a nobody, the least of these. And he did as he was told, even if it violated everything rational and right. He alone was healed. He alone received absolution.

God will work in the lives of those who take Him at His word, and He is no respecter of persons. He used the lowest of the low to speak to the greatest. Take care in who you listen to. Take care in how you respond.

Even Christians will defend an inadequate river if they proudly operate from their own wisdom and not God’s.

Christians should also finish the story in 2 Kings 5, because an additional warning to us exists in the failure of one who had seen many miracles and yet did not have saving faith, Gehazi, Elisha’s own servant. The world is filled with Gehazis. Don’t assume you aren’t one of his kind or that you are better than he is.

God made a Way in Jesus. One Way alone. Come, humble yourself and be made clean.

Attack of the Online “Prophets”


Ad hominem abusive.

If you don’t know what that means, here’s the ever-convenient Wikipedia with the answer:

An ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Fallacious ad hominem reasoning is normally categorized as an informal fallacy, more precisely as a genetic fallacy,  a subcategory of fallacies of irrelevance. Ad hominem reasoning is not always fallacious, for example, when it relates to the credibility of statements of fact.
Wikipedia entry for ad hominem

I’ve been on the Internet from before it was the Internet. Back in my earlier days at Carnegie Mellon University, I would send emails to a friend at MIT using the old ARPANET defense network, which evolved into the modern Internet. How long ago was this? Well, the smiley emoticon was “invented” at CMU during my tenure as a student.

So, I’ve watched the Internet grow up.

Sad to say, but I think that as the Internet grew up, the people who used it didn’t. And this brings us back to that Latin phrase above and its definition.

I don’t know what has happened in recent years, but I’m seeing an increase in ad hominem attacks online. The worst part of this is the attacks often come from Christians.

A fictional, but true to form, example:

ScourgePerson A : “Yes, you need to love people in Jesus’ name, but you can’t excuse their sin. Love them, but call them to repentance too.”

Person B : “Clearly, you are a legalistic fool who doesn’t know the Lord. Jesus is love. Love is all that matters—and you would know that if you truly know Him. But you don’t. I bet a Pharisee like you has never loved anyone except yourself.”

That’s what passes for discourse and an engagement of ideas, and I’m seeing it more and more on Christian websites.

Beyond the fact of ad hominem‘s status as a logical fallacy unworthy of use in debates and discussions, it’s the faux prophetic attitude of people that bothers me greatly. Too many Christians are presuming to know the spiritual condition of another person with whom they converse online, but without having met that person or read anything else that person may have written. Instead, ad hominem attacks often come out at the first interaction.

At the risk of being accused of an ad hominem attack myself, I must say that this borders on divination. Really. Because the ad hominem user is not only NOT being loving toward a fellow believer, he or she is claiming to scry out the spiritual condition of the other person, as if doing a fortune teller’s “cold reading.”

Folks, we can’t do this. Ever.

Online discourse is in a race to the lowest common denominator. When people who claim to be Christians drop words like unbeliever or heretic almost as a reflex in reference to others online, they run a great risk of sin—and in a public space for lost people to note. We’re the light of the world. If our discourse is filled with negative “prophetic” statements about other people we engage in cyberspace, then that light becomes darkness. Then we scratch our heads when other people say, “No, I don’t want anything to do with your Jesus or your Christian religion.”

If we’re going to be online and discussing difficult topics, engage ideas. Challenge concepts. Dismantle erroneous thinking.

But don’t dismantle people. And for the sake of your own soul, don’t attempt to play diviner into someone else’s spiritual state, especially when that perceived foe states nothing online that would serve as fodder for such pronouncements.

The 10-Word Reason for America’s Troubles


Flag, America in distressI hear a lot of laments online about why America is in trouble as a nation. There’s a reason for that trouble, a remarkably simple one.  It’s found in this verse of the Bible:

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
—James 4:6b ESV

America, as a nation, is too proud. And while that would be enough, we Americans are not only proud, but we are proud of our sin. We parade sin everywhere. We call evil good and good evil. We establish new standards of depravity in our nation and sign wickedness into law. And we are proud of ourselves for doing so.

If Americans ever want to see our country become great again, we need to become humble. We need to move from taking pride in sin to being disgusted by it. We need to stop calling the worst atrocities good and start calling evil for what it truly is, evil.

If we don’t stop being proud—and especially of the depraved things we say, think, and do—then there will be no grace poured out by God upon America. Instead, we will find ourselves on the wrong side of an unwinnable war.

Because no one who opposes God wins. Ever.