I am not impressed with the impressive

2 Kings 7
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sunset

There’s a scene in “Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade” that has a permanent place in my memory.

At the climax of the film, the “villain”, drinking from the supposed holy grail that will make him immortal, chooses incorrectly. What happens next is both ridiculous and enormously poignant.

Fair warning: this clip is disturbing for those who don’t like watching an awesome time-lapse of a rapidly aging human who gets thrown against a wall exploding into a dusty mass.

We discover after this gruesome scene that the correct grail is a humble looking one. You’d think that’d be the case — Jesus did live 2000 years ago, and it’s not like he had direct access to Rome’s gold reserves before having  a somber last meal.

What is it about the appearance of a vessel that causes us to gauge its usefulness? We too often perceive significance by superficial means; worse, we do it to ourselves all the time. We assume that God cannot possibly use this body, or that the other dude is way better because he’s smarter/stronger/has more stuff.

Now, we shouldn’t resort to constant self-affirmation to the point of delusion to get out of the rut of feeling unappreciated. Again, that’s delusional.  It was Jesus Himself that said the humble and meek are to be rewarded, rather than the haughty and proud.

However, it’s important to remember that the Lord does use the underdog. In fact, He kinda likes doing that. Today’s reading reflects this. Pay attention!

The king’s servant makes an irreverent comment about God.

How many people do you know that would readily say God is a false figure in the mind of a believer? Not many would say that to your face, but plenty believe it. Social media and any commentary on a remotely religious-minded CNN article prove it.

This guy in the king’s court has the audacity to mock God and discredit Elisha’s prophecy in one statement. How rude.

The public is drawn to people like this. He appears firm and refuses to appear extreme in his convictions. He looks slick, evading looking too religious or too conservative or too radical. But he has, for his own convenience, mostly, avoided displaying reverence for God.

The leprous men are ready to give up.

Meanwhile, outside the city gates, some ugly outcast types are lamenting the state of their existence. They say, “Well, since this economy sucks, we should just give ourselves to the enemy, and maybe we’ll get to eat and they’ll treat us a little better.”

They’re on the brink of surrender.  Do you ever feel like this?

They will soon discover this is exactly where they need to be.

“The noise of a great host.”

God throws the Syrians into confusion using the ol’ sound-of-a-huge-army trick, forcing them to abandon camp still in their chonies.

The lepers plod into said camp and discover tons of goodies, then promptly scavenge some of it. They recognize the favor they’ve stumbled upon, but they’re also concerned about their fate if they keep it to themselves.

Those who stand against God will one day be shocked when He shows up. Those who stand for Him will be handsomely rewarded, as long as they keep their humble attitudes.

God uses the shameful to restore Israel.

These lepers go back to the city and let the king know there’s a bunch of free stuff at the Syrian camp.  At first, the king doesn’t believe it, but upon further investigation, the lepers’ report is confirmed.  Israel promptly sends its people over there to retrieve the free goodies, and the economy is balanced out. Hurrah!

It didn’t require a heroic effort from a muscle-bound commando or a crafty strategy by the chief economic advisor to get things settled. Instead, the “least of these” are responsible for bringing the nation of Israel out of a terrible famine, and God is glorified.

Remember that servant? He got his.

Since traffic was at an all-time high from all these folks lugging stuff into the city, the king sends his officer to regulate the flow at the city gate. Like the people that unlock the doors at Walmart on Black Friday, the man is trampled by the ravenous crowds rushing through.

The formula is simple, really:

Those who value the Lord over themselves will see their lives used for His glory.

Those who value themselves over the Lord will see themselves on the back side of His mercy. Or the bottom side of a stampede. Whichever comes first.

If you’re feeling ugly, downtrodden, and you’re about to give up, know that it is not the impressive vessel that God uses, but the lowly and humble. It was His Son, homely and unimpressive, that represented humanity, not some triumphant horse-riding king with a gleaming smile and suave charisma.

 

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