Monday, October 29, 2012

2 Kings 7: Good News is for Sharing

2 Kings 6:24-25 Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey's head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove's dung for five shekels of silver.

2 Kings 7:1-2, 9-16 But Elisha said, "Hear the word of the Lord: thus says the Lord, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria." Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, "If the Lord himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?" But he said, "You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it."...
Then they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household." So they came and called to the gatekeepers of the city and told them, "We came to the camp of the Syrians, and behold, there was no one to be seen or heard there, nothing but the horses tied and the donkeys tied and the tents as they were." Then the gatekeepers called out, and it was told within the king's household. And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, "I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, 'When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.'" And one of his servants said, "Let some men take five of the remaining horses, seeing that those who are left here will fare like the whole multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let us send and see." So they took two horsemen, and the king sent them after the army of the Syrians, saying, "Go and see." So they went after them as far as the Jordan, and behold, all the way was littered with garments and equipment that the Syrians had thrown away in their haste. And the messengers returned and told the king. Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, according to the word of the Lord.

In the days of famine, any news about where to find food is good news. So, when the Syrian king Ben-hadad laid seige on Samaria, the food in the city quickly ran out and death by famine was staring at the people in the city. Four lepers at the gate decided to risk death by the sword rather than by hunger by surrendering themselves to the Syrian army outside the city. When they came to the Syrian camp, they found that the army had fled in fear, leaving behind all their supplies, for the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, "Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us." (v.6). 

The lepers helped themselves to the food left behind by the Syrians. But soon they said to one another, "We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king's household" (v.9). The king's initial reaction was skepticism, but soon one of his servants persuaded him to check it out--and sure enough, there was food aplenty, left behind by the Syrian army. This is the day of the Good News -- and Good News is for sharing. The whole city was saved through this act of the lepers to share the Good News with those who were suffering living hell.

This story reminds us again of our responsibility to share the Good News (Gospel) in the days of spiritual and moral famine in our land. Despite our seeming material prosperity, we are a nation suffering the living hell of spiritual and moral breakdown. Marriages and families are breaking up. Gambling addiction is going up. Promiscuity and teen pregnancies are rife among the young people and immorality among the "respectable" adults is becoming widespread. We have the Good News to deliver people in such spiritual and moral predicament. The priority of our mission and ministry must be seeking and saving the lost, not just "discipleship" that is ingrown and focused on how to improve ourselves rather than extend God's gracious and beneficent rule over those who have not heard the Good News of His divine abundance and goodness.

Discipleship without evangelism is like parenthood without children. All the attendance at parenting seminars will not help a church grow if there are no new spiritual babies born in the church! Of course, there are physical babies being born to Christian parents and they too need to be evangelized and discipled. But so do the many non-churchgoers who are struggling with spiritual, mental and emotional challenges that are often family and work-related. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News because it offers real hope to people struggling with life's challenges. And not just for non-churchgoers only. I'm beginning to see  increasingly in many churches that church-goers are in need of hearing the Gospel again. The Gospel is not the ABC's of our faith but the A to Z of our faith! A church that stops preaching the Gospel of Grace has stopped sharing Good News with its own members.

Discipleship and evangelism come together and many churches have separated what God has joined together in the Great Commission in Matt 28:19-20, "go and make disciples of all nations (evangelism), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (discipleship)." We can't have discipleship apart from evangelism, anymore than having parenting courses without also teaching married couples the fine art of baby-making. The best method of combining evangelism and discipleship in one ministry is process evangelism. While there are many process evangelism courses in the market, I still find the Alpha Course the most effective when done as an on-going and normal part of the church life. 

May the Lord help us see that we have a responsibility to share the Good News to those who are perishing from spiritual and moral famine in our land--churchgoers and non-churchgoers.

Father, help us share the Good News to those who need it. Amen.

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