“Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy. Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people…”
“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:5-6,9
“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Luke 4:24
I have no doubt that the biggest, most pronounced human fear is the fear of rejection. Why else would so many of us be afraid of public speaking? Why else would we stay in relationships that are toxic? Why else are we afraid to share our feelings with someone we admire? Why else do we continue to fall into the false notion that we somehow have to earn God’s approval, earn our heaven? Every single day, the False Spirit attempts to lead us to this place of insecurity and desolation.
For so much of my life my relationship with God was grounded in a fear of rejection. Sure, I always believed in a God, but that God often seemed to be a God whose acceptance I needed to earn. Oh how often I assumed that the point of this Christian journey was to accomplish things so that I could get to heaven – as if heaven or happiness could somehow be earned!
There is one simple seed of faith, though, that can change everything. It is the experience of the God who not only loves and accepts us as we are, but likes everything about us. It is the experience of the God who has already and continues to earn our heaven.
Elisha, knowing exactly what it is like to be rejected, spent almost his entire life ministering in a way that was indifferent to rejection. He healed Naaman without any fanfare or attention, trusting entirely in the slow work of God. He even trusted that God would heal despite Naaman’s pride. And in rejecting Naaman’s offer of a princely gift, he reminds us that God’s healing is not something to be purchased. It is freely given.
Today’s readings invite us to consider the places in our lives where the fear of rejection has power over us. Let us now spend a few quiet minutes looking at those places and bringing these fears to the Lord.
“Wash and be clean”
Reflected by Tony Cortese