Monday, March 21, 2005

The Leprous Church...

I found in an old familiar story a wonderful picture of grace and its antithesis in 2 Kings 5:1ff.

A picture of Elisha, a leprous Naaman, and Gehazi. Despite the arrogance, the haughtiness there is brushstroke upon brushstroke - creating a picture of grace, a picture of the undeterred love of God. Was it the healing in this narrative or the 'undiluted grace' that made God known to Naaman to the extent that Naaman took a ton of topsoil with him back to his homeland to worship on? Elisha gave a perfect example how to reflect the grace of God. A' love despite'.

Also a picture of Gehazi and an antithesis of grace. Gehazi who felt Naaman should pay. Gehazi who felt this well established official shouldn’t get away with nothing in return. The image of grace is left tarnished. Gehazi left as leprous as Naaman had been. What represented a true authentic gift of love became a cheapened token of God. Gehazi tarnished that grace.

Ok –a bit tough on Gehazi tougher on his descendants and this blogbyte analysis of grace here could leave us with theological indigestion! So much more to chew...however...it left me wondering about how much I am like Gehazi?

Am I comfortable to allow grace to shine out without some measurable return? To engage within our community with no strings attached? As church, a community of 'God's ambassadors' called demonstrate his kingdom – imagine if we tarnish that love, imagine if we cheapen the kingdom; imagine if we have hidden agendas behind our actions. Imagine that the love we demonstrate is a ‘means to an end’ cover up.

Do we present a picture of grace or ‘un-grace?’ (I think Yancey coined the phrase!). It’'s important we try to get this right in terms of community engagement as I'’m not sure how attractive a leprous church is?

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