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Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, …there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master and by all in Syria. He was a powerful man. He was a wealthy man. He was a man to be feared! And by all accounts, he was a successful man. But Naaman had one big problem. He was a leper. And he apparently masked his leprosy with his achievements and titles.
Over the years, we learn to mask many things in our life. For example, we mask our lack of confidence by outlandishness. We mask our lack of self-esteem with big huge sun glasses. Far too many of us mask our sadness with drugs and alcohol. Others learn to mask their loneliness in their work. A few mask their lack of self worth in one night stands.
While there are plenty of things we can mask over, there are still some things we can never ever hide. A serious illness is one of them.
Sickness has a way of making every big problem seem small. Again, we can mask a lot of issues in our life, but it’s hard to mask pain and suffering. It’s hard to mask a skin disease. It’s hard to mask our sins. They eventually come out into the open.
Naaman was blessed; that is, he knew he was loved by a little Jewish slave girl who noticed how her master suffered. When he found out (through her) that there lived a prophet in Samaria, he immediately set out to find him. Once he did, he was surprised at what he had to do. “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”
Really? Was it that easy?
“Yes”, because the instructions and ritual were pretty easy to follow and do. “No”, because it took a lot of humility to do it.
Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” (2Kgs 5:11).
Well, after struggling with it for a while, the army commander finally submitted. He did as he was told and his skin became like that of a child.
Confession. We all know about Confession. And I would even venture to say that most of us still believe in it. And although we know exactly what happens to our sins once we confess them (they are all washed away), we still rebel at the thought of confessing them! Interesting… Maybe the reason for this is because we are still sinners. In other words, maybe the reason why it’s so hard to confess our sins is because while it takes a lack of humility to commit our sins, it takes great humility to confess them!
Although the ritual is simple and clear cut, doing it is another story. It’s hard to be humble (and that’s the reason why we keep sinning)! In fact, that’s the reason why we prefer, like Naaman, to do things our way or to convince ourselves that our way is just as good as God’s way! Why must I go to confession, can’t I confess my sins directly to God and in the luxury of my own room? Isn’t my room just as good as the confessional room???
Well, if I can confess all my sins directly to God, then I guess I should be able to receive all my faith in God from my room as well, correct? No more need for Pastors, preachers, churches or even bibles!
But like Naaman, let’s remove the mask, take the plunge, and refresh our souls to that of a child.
Resolution: I will remove the mask this week and confess my sins.