There is an fascinating story told in the Second book of Kings (Chapter 5) about a young Jewish girl who was taken captive by the commander of the army of the king of Aram, a neighboring country and potential enemy of the nation of Israel. The commander’s name was Naaman and the young girl lived under his roof as a servant to his wife.
Naaman was a valiant soldier, but he had contracted leprosy. Now the servant girl (we never do know her name) knew there was a prophet, Elisha, in Israel who could cure diseases. “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria!” she told her mistress. “He would cure him of his leprosy.”
Desperate for a cure to what at that time was an incurable disease, Naaman went to the king and told him what the girl had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman went, taking with him gifts of gold, silver and fine clothing. But when the king of Israel received Naaman and the letter he reacted unfavorably. “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” He thought it was a set-up for his failure perhaps to provoke a conflict. And the king tore his clothes.
Fortunately, Elisha heard what had happened and sent him a message, “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” (These guys sent a lot of messages. They would have loved email!) So Naaman went to Elisha and at this point the story takes a little twist.
Hearing that Naaman was coming to his house, Elisha sent a messenger out to meet Naaman and tell him to wash seven times in the Jordan River and he would be healed. Well, Naaman was a little put out that Elisha sent an email and didn’t come out to heal him himself, and why should he wash in the Jordan? “Are not the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” and he stormed off in a huff.
Fortunately for Naaman, he had some smart servants with him who talked him out of his anger and convinced him to do what Elisha said, and when he did, he was completely healed and his flesh “became clean like that of a young boy.” Seeing this, Naaman returned to Elisha and claimed allegiance to the God of Israel. He even packed some stones and earth from Israel to take home with him so he could build an altar on his property in Aram to Yahweh, and vowed to “never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord.”
All this because a young servant girl, captive in a foreign land, pointed someone who needed help to the one true God she worshiped. This is not only an example of redemption and worship, but of loving one’s enemy.
Is it not the same for us? Are we not captives in a foreign land where many around us are serving false gods who can’t deliver on their promises? And don’t we have the same role as this simple young girl — to send people to Jesus? “Why are you suffering when there is someone who can heal you? May I introduce you to Him?”
We are in a foreign land introducing our enemies to the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward. How simple is that? If a servant girl can do this, surely we can too.