By Monk Christodoulos Gregoriates
In this letter, I visit you beloved reader to remind you of two soul-saving stories from the Old Testament which have the purpose of becoming a compass of truths in your life travels.
One day the Military General of Syria, Naaman, visited the Prophet Elisha to heal him from the illness of leprosy (4 Kings 5). Through a third party the Prophet Elisha told Naaman to go under the waters of the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. Naaman however left angrily saying, "I thought that this person would come to visit me, stand over me in prayer and call on his God, and then put his hand on my ill body and heal me. Are not the rivers of Abana and Pharpar in Damascus better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not go under these waters and be healed?" His soldiers drew near and said, "The prophet did not tell you to do something very hard or impossible." And they made him follow the commandment of the prophet. Truly, Naaman believed. He went to the river Jordan, immersed himself seven times, and his body was cleansed of leprosy. His skin became like that of a small child. Yet from Naaman, the leprosy went to Prophet Elisha's1 servant, Gehazi. It went to Gehazi because he secretly ran to Naaman and received an unlawful gift for the miraculous healing and then concealed his sin from the prophet with a silly lie.
Who healed Naaman from leprosy? The waters of the Jordan? Of course not! If the prophet sent him to the Euphrates River, and Naaman went under the water in the Jordan River, he would not have been healed! Naaman was healed from the healing power of OBEDIENCE. He obeyed the prophetic truth and was freed from leprosy. The leprosy was saddled on the lie of Gehazi. What a powerful and irrefutable teaching this story leaves us! Who can dispute that obedience to truth is a sacrifice greater than every other sacrifice? The greatness of truth on earth is noted by Zorobabel in the Old Testament (1 Esdras 4:34-41). The greatness of the sacrifice of obedience is taught by the Prophet Samuel (1 Kings 15).
One day the Prophet Samuel told King Saul to go into battle with the Amalekites and slay them and all their animals. Saul went to war with them, defeated them, but withheld as spoils of war their best animals to sacrifice to God. God however did not want a sacrifice such as the spoils of disobedience. He was visited by the Prophet Samuel telling him the following very significant words, "Do you think your sacrifices are more preferable to God than obedience to his commandments? Obedience to his commandments is higher than any other sacrifice, and careful attention to God's commandments is more preferable than the fat of the sacrifices of rams." This is a sin which is equivalent to sacrifices being made to idols, and such sacrifice brings pain to man. For this disobedience, Saul's lost his title as King.
With these two stories, the truth, more brighter than the sun, teaches us that no one received healing without obeying God's commandments and no one becomes holy with sacrifices that are done outside obedience of His commandments that are given through His prophets. Because genuine sacrifice to God is a humble spirit (Psalm 50:19); that is, the spirit of obedience. Genuine freedom for man is knowledge of truth. "Know the truth and the truth will free you" (John 8:32). What however is the truth? Dear reader: as a hospital is verifiable as a healing center from the good results of healing the sick, the truth is verifiable from the results of its healings. Naaman obeyed the truth of the prophet and saw immediately the results of his healing.
Today, there are many rivers in which people are baptized with no results of healing. This is because their source is not based on truth and obedience. The Jordan River springs from the sources Ye'or and Dan. Symbolically, these springs can be translated as obedience to truth. The river today that springs from these two sources is named Orthodoxy. If you want to see the healing results of baptism in this river do not hesitate to follow the example of Naaman. You may at the beginning become angry like Naaman and put reason above faith. Afterwards however, think more clearly, and place your faith above human reasoning. Your faith to obedience of truth will become the joy of your salvation. I wish this upon you!