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Holy wars

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Some of the most unholy acts have been committed in the name of God. Not surprisingly, then, some say religion isn't sacred at all; it's just another political ideology fueling another warring faction. Even the believer may at times wonder if faith in God is enough to heal the deep divisions in our world and prove the power of God.

Yet it's obvious the great prophets didn't use secular power to prove God's power. When faced with a Syrian army, the prophet Elisha gave dramatic evidence of God's power, but he didn't use political or military might. And in raising the Shunammite's dead son, Elisha showed that, unlike human power, God's power is unlimited. n1

n1 See II Kings 6:8-23 and 4:8-37.

Elisha's healing of Naaman, a Syrian commander, is pertinent. n2 Naaman was a leper. The king of Syria, hearing that someone in Samaria could heal leprosy, asked the king of Israel to heal the captain. The king of Israel knew he couldn't heal Naaman. But Elisha told the king to send Naaman to him.

n2 See II Kings 5:1-14.

Naaman arrived with a fanfare. But Elisha wouldn't meet with him. Instead he sent a servant with this message: Go wash seven times in the river Jordan, and you'll be healed.

The demand was symbolic. Just washing in the Jordan wouldn't heal him. Was Elisha trying to humiliate Naaman or get revenge on the Syrians? No. Could it be that the whole process Naaman and Elisha went through signaled an indispensable element in true religion and in healing? This element is the need to yield - not to a king, a military hero, or even a prophet, but to God.

When Naaman yielded, he was healed. But Elisha must have yielded, too. If he had been relying on some personal or ecclesiastical power, he couldn't have helped Naaman. Both men had to yield to the one God, who heals.

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