NL Year 1  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Sermon Tone Analysis
View more →
This last week I was at the LAMA retreat in preparation for the 2nd annual LAMA Summit that was held on Saturday. During our retreat we were broken up into two teams and were asked to build a structure taller than the other team. Our materials were: a piece of string, a length of painters tape, 20 spaghetti noodles, and a marshmallow. The marshmallow had to be perched on top of the structure and the structure had to be free standing. Also we had 18 minutes to build it.
Our team probably spent a good 5-6 minutes talking about what was the best way to build the structure, which meant that we only had about 12-13 minutes to build it. We had this grand plan to attach 3 noodles together to build strong support legs and that we would have 3 of those legs. We then tied string around those legs to offer more stability for what came next. We then attached broken noodles with tape to those three support structures and by the time we got there we were out of time, which didn’t matter because the legs were twisting making the whole structure we had build so far completely unstable. Maybe surprisingly, or maybe not, the other team had a loose plan and just kind of built something and they not only had it stick together but they also managed to get it to stand with a marshmallow on top.
As I look back at what happened I realize that when I told myself we were going to be fine with having spent 5-6 of our 18 minutes discussing the plan, I should have realized at that point that it was way too much time and we weren’t going to get to execute our plan like we wanted. In the moment I feel like we felt that we were making the right decisions and that the plan was going to work, but then as time went by the cold reality of things set in. The reality was, was that we had spent too much time planning. We had over thought the process and perhaps made it more complicated than it should have been. How often do we do that in our lives? How many times do we overcomplicate matters and make things more difficult for ourselves and even for others when it didn’t have to be that way?
Look at Naaman. He is frustrated and even upset over the fact that the solution to his skin disease is so easy. Admittedly he had been given the runaround by going to the king of Israel first and then being sent to Elisha only to not even see the prophet face to face, but why did he want to complicate matters more than they had to be? For some reason Naaman had thought that something more grandiose or complicated would have been the proper way to cure him. Maybe if Elisha had to build a tower that held a marshmallow at the top he would have felt more accomplished or satisfied that he had done enough. Or perhaps as a military man he would have been more comfortable going through a boot camp obstacle course in record time. Perhaps those would have proved to Elisha and others that Naaman was worthy enough to be healed. After all Naaman himself even admits that he was at least hoping for Elisha to come and see him face to face and wave his hand around the afflicted area and call on the name of the Lord. If he was supposed to do something easy why couldn’t he have just bathed in a river in his own country, especially since those rivers are far better than the ones in Israel.
Doesn’t that feel like how we make faith sometimes even today? We are like Naaman and we want to complicate and sometimes even overcomplicate things for ourselves and maybe more oftentimes for others. Sometimes people of faith will say you have to dress like us. Or you have to think like us. Or you have to have all these things figured out in your faith life before you can have communion with us. We tend to build up these roadblocks to faith that it seems like we have to climb a high mountain and walk a thousand miles uphill in the snow before we can either ourselves participate fully in the communion of faith or that is what we do to others. Why do we overcomplicate life and faith so much?
There is a fantastic story about a gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism but he wanted it taught to him in the time he spent standing on one foot. He went to a Rabbi named Shammai who was furious at the request and sent him away. The gentile then went to a Rabbi named Hillel and presented him with the same request. Hillel told him this, “Whatever is hateful and distasteful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Torah, the rest is commentary. Go learn.” Rabbi Hillel was able to boil down everything of faith to a single sentence about how to treat yourself and others. That was it. He did tell him to go and learn more about the ‘commentary’ portion of things, but he made it simple for this man and brought him to faith in God.
In fact, look at how simple the healing in the gospel story is today. The man is so so confident in Jesus ability to heal him, he places the actual healing in Jesus’ desire to heal him. Jesus responds positively and heals the man. It was that simple. The man is healed, the man is restored to his community and his faith. Just as Naaman is restored fully to his health as well. Naaman takes the advice of his servants to not overcomplicate this whole healing thing. To get over his ego about who he is and what a healing should look like and he is healed after washing in the waters of the Jordan River. He then returns to Elisha and declares that there really is no God anywhere except in Israel. All the pomp and circumstance meant nothing when it came to the actual healing that Naaman received.
God doesn’t overcomplicate faith. God invites us into relationship with God and with one another. God sent God’s one and only son to die for us so that our understanding of what it means to have faith and receive forgiveness would be simple. There have been and continue to be books, articles, blogs, movies, and more written and produced about God, and while much of it may be good it pales in comparison to this one simple phrase: God loves you. God loves you and is here for you. It isn’t flashy, it isn’t difficult, it isn’t complicated. It is a simple fact. Simple, but life changing. So don’t complicate this whole idea of faith for yourself or others. Just share God’s love with them so they can know that there really is nothing more important than having a relationship with our loving and gracious God. Amen.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more