The Prejudice of Ego
2 Kings 2:6-14
© Hilary F. Marckx, all rights reserved
I was raised a Fundamentalist.
Catholics, Gays, Communists, Liberal Protestants,
most Conservative Protestants,
any one of Color, drunkards and drug addicts
were all in the same group,
NOT OUR KIND AND TO BE AVOIDED!
They could be saved, maybe, but surely not healed enough
to be allowed under the same roof
that housed our congregation.
I was healed of this kind of thinking,
and I became a member of that outcast group
for which I am eternally grateful.
I have seen God heal many people in my life as a Christian.
I have seen dying children healed,
broken lives put back together,
Protestants healed to become Catholics
and Catholics healed to become Protestants,
I have witnessed ego-inflated closed minds
opened as was mine.
There are minds closed by choice
and minds closed by upbringing and culture,
and yes, I have witnessed true healing,
but a mind that is closed by a heart hardened by ego,
I am not sure I have ever seen one of those healed.
Naaman was clearly prejudiced, ego-inflated
and wanted nothing to do with any healing
that tweaked his ego
and came from an inferior race like the Hebrews.
And yet he listened to his slave,
and he wanted to be healed desperately enough
to go against his own prejudice
and the mightiness of his station and class
and allow the healing to happen…
And how much of our own healing
do our ego and prejudice inhibit?
# # #
We all have our own muddy-watered River Jordan into which we must immerse ourselves if we want to receive God’s healing.
Many times we want more from God than God wants of us. Or is that the other way around? We like the flair of the fancy. We want to be special. We want God not to just lift us up, but WAY up. We say we don’t but we really do. AND we want to be healed in the way we expect to be healed. BATHE ME IN THE ELIXIRS OF HEAVEN, NOT IN THE MUDDY WATER OF THE JORDAN! So here is Naaman, expecting treatment equal to the station to which he was accustomed, and not only did the prophet not deign to come out in person, but had his servant tell him to go clean up in the River Jordan. Go take a bath, Naaman!
But before you laugh at Naaman, consider this. Don’t we all like to be treated to a “spa day,” a really good massage, a doctor that really understands us, someone who gets what we are about, medical care that treats us like the persons we are? We do not like being numbers. We hate being pawned off on subordinates. Who wants a medical practitioner when a “Real” doctor might be available? We like to be spoiled, pampered, stroked, and petted when we are sick, and treated as if we are the special people we would like to think we are. But while that is not always the case, we do our best to pretend it is true.
We set up phony systems that enable our sense of specialness. Country Clubs. Community Service Groups. Religious organizations such as churches and societies that separate and discriminate and judge. Hebrew and Christian Scriptures consistently have the people who need healing go to lesser folk for the healing. Or they are told that to be included they must include. If we want rights ourselves, we must offer the very rights we want (think we deserve) to those who have no rights or whom we think might be undeserving.
The truth is, though, we are all needing, deserving, receiving God’s healing, and with no grand show of anything God just gives it out. God through Elisha said, “Naaman, go take a mud bath and all will be well.” Naaman said to God, “I want scented oils and beautiful music and dancers and incense and a great big song and dance so I will know I am healed.” And God said, “Just go into the muddy water, Naaman, and get yourself healed.” Naaman did and he was.
The question for us is always, who/what is our greatest stumbling block to our healing? What keeps us from getting into the muddy water? It most probably is the idea that if we were to get healed, we would have to admit that we needed to be healed in the first place. We will admit to a problem, but no way will we admit to the problem. ESPECIALLY IF THAT PROBLEM IS YOUR OWN FAITH SYSTEM!
When I started to realize that the righteousness I truly believed was inherent in the Fundamentalism that was my faith system was truly evil, it came as a horrifying shock to me. My first reaction was that I was now surely on my way to a hell I had spent most of my life trying to avoid. My second reaction was that if the precepts of Fundamentalism were wrong, then I was left with absolutely nothing on which to stand or base my faith. Yet I had come to believe that Fundamentalism was indeed wrong. What I had to do was to re-build my faith in a way that was not wrong, but was healthy, and not a Full Gospel Faith, but rather a faith that was full of Gospel.
I went into the muddy waters of the Jordan and came up, like Naaman, healed. I will admit it was not easy, it was very scary, and I probably stayed under those waters way longer than most do, but I came up free from Fundamentalism. I no longer believe in the judgement that excludes, separates, condemns, and destroys human beings in the name of love. I now see all humanity as one in God. I understand that all spiritual paths, many of which I do not personally understand, lead to the heart of God, and God’s love. I know that hope, love, joy are the language out of which God speaks, and that God is not simply still speaking, but God’s Word and words, speak in all faith systems, and that anywhere there is a need there is God, and no human has any right whatsoever to silence God.
How does all this work out in a day to day practical way? First, we need to recognize that we are all standing knee-deep in the mud. Second, we must recognize that we are all standing on holy ground. Third, we should come to grasp that God speaks to others in ways we may not understand, and just accept the fact that we probably don’t need to understand, but we do need to accept. Fourth, and this is key, THE GOSPEL WE DISCOVER IN THE BOOK WE CALL THE BIBLE IS NOT THE ONLY WORD/S GOD HAS SPOKEN OR WILL CONTINUE TO SPEAK. Fifth, and it relates to the fourth, and now I am writing of political systems, gender preferences, sexual orientations, racial groups, religious affiliations—our way, whatever it is, is not only not the only way, but it is just one of many ways to discovering Truth and God.
So, how does God speak to you? What is the language God whispers in your ear? What is it that causes your heart to leap like a deer, and brings you up out of the muddy waters of your Jordan?
# # #
2 Kings 5:1-14 — The Message
Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that God had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.” Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said. “Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”
So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes. Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”
Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door. Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”
Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet. But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?” So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.