Do you have trouble believing in God? Do you know others who are struggling to put their trust in Christ. I recently heard Ravi Zacharias share about two barriers to belief, that sounded very modern and relevant to our time. Maybe they fit your life or did. The reality is — they are nothing new.
I call it the “my way or the highway” defense against God. If he doesn’t fit into what I want him to be or do, then there is no way I’m going to believe. Ever met anyone like that? I have.
The stories Ravi shared go back thousands of years. See if you recognize yourself in them.
The first is about a man named Naaman. He was an army commander, a man of great influence and importance. He had one problem — he had leprosy. Now, I know that leprosy seems like something that is relegated to ancient days, but it’s not. It’s still around today, in many countries. However, if you wanted to modernize it a bit, you can think of Naaman as a person with AIDS or opioid addiction. In any case, he was miserable.
Thankfully, he had a young girl working for him who knew the power of the Living God and encouraged her master to seek the help of the prophet Elisha. Instead of speaking to him directly, Elisha sent a message to tell Naaman to wash seven times in the Jordan River. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? But Naaman didn’t want to wash in the dirty Jordan, he had better rivers in Damascus.
Naaman was only willing to go God’s way, if he did it his way.
The story could have ended right there, but thankfully, his servants persuaded their master to actually do it God’s way, and when he did, he was healed. A life changed, when the barrier was broken.
The story continues with another example of how we try to manipulate God, as Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, sneaks back to Naaman, against his own master’s direct orders, and seeks payment for a “job well done” (on God’s behalf, that is).
Gehazi is a great example, as Ravi Zacharias pointed out, of a person who wants to go their own way and make it look like God’s. That never works for long, does it? It didn’t for Gehazi, because Elisha wasn’t a prophet for nothing, and knew what he’d done. The leprosy that had been on Naaman ended up on Gehazi instead.
One overcame a barrier to faith by denying self, while the other built a barrier by choosing self.
Which one got the better deal?
I see so many friends and loved ones choosing their way over God. While they may think they’re holding the better life today, it won’t look that way for long. God will not be mocked. In the end, it’s His way or the highway…straight to Hell.
Which will you choose? It’s not too late to make your way align with God’s.
Grace and Peace
*The stories of Naaman and Gehazi can be found in 2 Kings 5.
*The Ravi Zacharias 2017 podcast on Barriers to Belief can be found at https://www.rzim.org/listen/just-thinking/barriers-to-belief-part-1-of-4