Too Easy
2 Kings 5:1-14

You’ve all heard the saying, Life wasn’t meant to be easy, which is the first part of a quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw.  Well it seems as though Naaman agreed with that, well before George Bernard Shaw gave it a run.  He was a bit taken aback when he was told to go and wash himself in the Jordan River seven times; in fact he went off in a bit of a rage.

There he was all prepared to pay a small fortune for this prophet of Israel to heal him, and he’s told to go and wash in the dirty old Jordan.  Not having to pay anything for it was a bit too easy.  The prophet didn’t even bother to come out of the house to greet him and make him feel special!  His servants were wise though, they encouraged him, “if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”  So he went down and washed himself in the waters of the Jordan seven times and came out all clean and soft like a child.

We’ve probably all used the saying, “Life wasn’t meant to be easy” throughout our lives, but the funny thing is we still whinge and moan about how hard things are to do.  For example, I’ve been bouncing backwards and forwards with the passport office because they are having trouble reading the numbers on my birth certificate.  Their current procedure is for the post office to photocopy the original document, sign it to declare that it is a true copy of the original and then fax it off to the passport office.  Of course by the time it has been copied twice an already faded number is completely illegible.  Now I have to get a new birth certificate printed so that they can copy it twice and read the number!  Even having my expired passport doesn’t seem to help.

The flip side of that is that we would probably complain if it was too easy to get a passport wouldn’t we.  In this modern age where national security is paramount we expect it to be difficult to get hold of a passport so that forging one is difficult too, or that people can’t rort the system but when we get messed around by it, well that’s just not good enough!

And what about when it comes to faith, hope and salvation, are we like our old mate Naaman, do we think we’re too important to stoop to dipping ourselves seven times in the Jordan River, do we want to have to DO something elaborate to earn our salvation? 

Sometimes that is what we think.  We know that James says “faith without works is dead”, so we translate that into thinking that in order to receive the gift of eternal life from God we have to do and be something extraordinary to earn it.  But that’s not how it works, God gives us the gift of eternal life by grace through faith, then in response to that through the fruit of the Spirit we are able to do good works for others.

For many this is like the, “which came first, the chicken or the egg”, kind of argument, which is then exacerbated by our apparent need to make life harder than it’s meant to be.  We feel the need to do things in order to receive.

Remember when I said that Naaman had to wash in the Jordan seven times, even that might seem excessive to us, after all when we are baptised, we only have to do it once and it lasts throughout our lives, there’s no need to go back for another go.  Even if you were baptised in another Christian Church, as long as you were baptised with water and in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit according to the command that Jesus gave, your baptism is recognised by other Christian denominations and of course most importantly by God.

It is a once for all time kind of thing.  In baptism you are washed clean, your sins are forgiven.  That’s the healing that you receive, it mightn’t fix up your skin allergies, or fungal diseases, or anything else that ails you, but better than that, you receive the gift of eternal life, a heavenly healing.  Yes it does seem cheap and easy, probably most of us were carried to the font by one of our parents or a sponsor, and some pastor dipped his hand in the water and splashed it on our heads, we were too little to argue the point and we couldn’t answer with our parents and sponsors when they were asked to say the Apostle’s Creed or that they would teach us the commandments and the Lord’s Prayer.

It seems kind of easy doesn’t it?  Is God’s gift to us too cheap?  Well not when you think what it cost HIM.  As we shared with the Head to the Heart group here on Friday night, John 3:16, 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” He gave his son; he suffered and died at the hands of ruthless and unforgiving men who felt threatened by this wise and gentle man called Jesus.

He paid the price so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.  It wasn’t cheap and easy for him, it cost God big time, and it cost Jesus too, he had to do the suffering and dying part.  He felt the pain of abandonment on the cross, and then he rose again as his victory over death after descending into hell for three days.  He did that so we don’t have to, how awesome is that?
So if you find yourself thinking that God’s grace is too cheap, if you think that life wasn’t meant to be easy so your salvation shouldn’t be easy either, think again.  It was God’s choice how your salvation would come about, just like it was God’s choice how Naaman would be healed from his skin disease.  To quote the servants of Naaman again, “if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?”

Jesus has told us, “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved.”  This is his promise to us, yes it sounds too easy. For us it is, but it’s what God has told us through his son, believe it and live in it.