Unwinding from our worship gathering at Snow Hill I am still thinking about the young Israelite slave girl in 2 Kings 5. I am thinking of her yet as a “type” for the modern church in the West and in particular the AmericaWest. We often jump right past her as we give attention to the politics that kept the King of Israel from perceiving the letter from the King of Syria as an occasion to point to the goodness of God. We are taken by the miracle of both flesh and faith with Naaman. We feel incensed at Elisha’s slave who accepted the gift under false pretense.
What if we viewed her deportment as the manner for life in a pluralistic culture? Evangelical culture warriors decry the diminishing Judeo-Christian ethos in America. Everyone is calling for a “take America back” sort of movement. The slave girl did not decry her re-location but lived faithfully in her less than desirable nation – that is, she surely would have preferred her own. Rather than hope that Naaman, and so Syria, “got theirs,” she was on the ready to do “good to everyone” even if that “everyone” held her as a slave. She wanted what was best for Naaman.
Too often it is easy to vilify those with a disposition that runs counter to our own Christian sensibilities. What would happen if in our living out life in this ordinary time we could bring ourselves to first think about how we could do good to everyone? Even toward those pre-disposed to think we experience faith as an opiate or a language game that can neither be falsified or verified.
What would it mean as a sign and a foretaste of the Kingdom of God we so ardently push to demonstrate a kindness characteristic of the Triune God? We seem to be more bent to pronounce our anathemas and call attention to abominations as if these things surprise us or will make them go away.
Here we are on July 4th. Celebrating our history and freedom. Honoring those who have chosen to serve in our Country’s Armed services. We also find it a time to quickly point out how things have changed – times and sentiment toward Christianity in particular. And yet, despite the changes in her location and the apparent malaise in Israel, the slave girl remained benevolent toward all, ready with a witness to her good God, even for a foreigner.
Maybe we should spend more time hoping we would experience the kind of transformation that presents local Christian communities as benevolent signposts expressing God’s goodness rather than outposts calling us to a bygone cultural era. The former demonstrates we have been paying attention to Jesus and the Sacred Text. Following the latter illustrates an adventure in missing our location.