Let’s reword Psalm 1:1…
Sometimes by writing the opposite in the Wisdom/Poetry literature, it helps to better understand what the writer is conveying. In Psalm 1, the Psalmist is talking about a life filled with and by God. This is a life of relationship with God, and those who choose to be called by his name and be led by him, and in fellowship with other believers. This may often seem slow, monotonous, and unexciting. People will often avoid such a life, and look at things outside, which seem more dramatic or exciting.
Naaman initially rejected Elisha’s instructions for not meeting his expectation. He was expecting at least a hand-waving! Naaman, at least, would have accepted miraculous healing (with the hand-waving), but whether it was geographic pride (my rivers are better than yours) or personal pride (Elisha didn’t come to see him personally), Naaman was ticked. What is particularly interesting is Naaman’s servants’ approach to the matter. They rhetorically ask him that if Elisha’s (God’s) requirement was some great feat (contextually, some military matter), wouldn’t he have done it?
On the surface, Elisha’s hand-waving and a great feat are different. Truly, though, they both revolved around Naaman’s pride. His pride was a barrier to his healing. This is why the wisdom of Psalm 1 applies. Sometimes, living the clean (righteous, holy, etc) life isn’t doing huge things, are having huge things happening to you, but resting beside the living water of God, and taking in the love and goodness that it brings.
There are other times when resting in your life, leads to other issues. When John starts baptizing people, he calls out to the comfortable and those seeking excitement. He calls them Brood (or offspring) of Vipers. It is not a stretch to believe that John was telling them that their bite (i.e., hearts and words) would lead to death, as vipers are poisonous snakes. One could also infer the connection between the snake of Eden (tempting Adam and Eve into the first sin) and the viper (who leads to death).
The people, both the general populace and the Pharisees, could claim that they were looking for the Messiah (or his messenger), or looking for a better life. Yet, John does put a result out there. Those who say they repent (and thus could be baptized) were to display “good fruit.” The implication being that no good fruit was being produced.
Naaman and John tie together the contradiction of the human condition. If we think it’s worth it, we’ll do really hard things that require sacrifice. However, sometimes the hardest thing is to do nothing exciting. On the other hand, we are also people of a culture who want to be like many of those baptized by John and just be done after that one thing. Yet, the true life offered through Christ is relational. Baptism is not meant to be “the end”. It’s not even meant to be the beginning. Baptism is the public profession of the faith in Christ inside our heart. It is another step along the road of life with Christ.
- How do you see the need for excitement or big events driving your personal life? How about your work or school life? How about your faith and/or church life?
- We seek both comfort and excitement. Where do you find that contradiction in yourself?
- What would attract you to “sit” with God? What draws you away from it?
- [FD] What big thing would you like to do for God? What small things do you do for God?