Identity


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He had everything you could want out of his life. Wealth? He had boatloads. Connections? He rubbed shoulders with the most significant people of the time. Power? He was a war hero, that now had armies at his command. He even made a splash in the fashion world. There was one major problem... he had leprosy. But the sickness in his heart was actually worse than the disease on his skin. Despite all he had, he spent his life trying to prove his significance and find his identity. But God took this man on a journey to brokenness. And when he got there he found restoration he could have only hoped to be possible. Let us introduce you to a man named Naaman.

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Control. That is a tough thing to give up. It’s not just “control freaks” that want control. We all do. Some could say it’s the hardest thing to give up. But what about glory? Glory is hard to pass up. Deflecting recognition or praise for something is not our instinct. What about letting someone else get credit when you deserve some too? That’s not easy. But which is harder? Would you be happier giving up control to get glory or giving up glory to get control? But maybe that’s not the real question. What if surrendering control AND glory would actually make us the happiest? The story of Naaman once again turns the world upside down, and shows us how our instincts often need to be reprogramed.

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Think about the idiom “climb the ladder.” We use it in a couple different spheres of life: “climb the corporate ladder,” or “climb the social ladder,” or just “climb the ladder of success.” In our culture we intend to desire a general upward trajectory. We even use the phrase “upwardly mobile,” to communicate someone improving their general situation economically or socially. It is interesting that it is so instinctual for our society to see the “up” direction as superior. We say I want to be “over” more responsibility, “above” people on the chain of command, and have a “higher” position of responsibility. Upward seems like the natural trajectory. But how does that square with the trajectory of Jesus? What if with Jesus everything changes? When you have Jesus everything is turned upside down.

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Insiders. Those that are in the right groups, have the right status, or know the right people. Almost every sphere of life has them. But what does someone who’s on the “inside” look like when it comes to spiritual things? Maybe spiritual insiders are those who know a lot about their faith. They are well read and can answer people’s questions. Maybe it’s the people who are really loving and hospitable and generous. They sacrifice a lot for others. Maybe it’s the person who has a religious position. They are a leader in their church or faith group. Interestingly, the story of Naaman pushes our conventional thinking about who is an insider. What does it take to be accepted by God? It may surprise you what the Bible says about what an insider looks like.