Two things from the lectionary readings this morning.
First of all, I love the story of Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army. I love the whole diplomatic aspect of it: kings sending letters back and forth, and the anxiety of the king of Israel over what happens if the Arameans gets riled?
I also love the importance of the servants throughout the story. It's the captured Israelite girl serving Naaman's wife who brings up the possibility of healing in Israel. It's Naaman's servants who give the practical advice, "Just bathe already" - again, very diplomatically. Elisha himself was not so diplomatic, but effective.
Which was stuck in my head when I heard the reading from Corinthians and Paul saying, "I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air." Didn't as much care for the "punishing my body" part of the reading, but you can't have everything.
I guess the thing that this makes me think about is, what is effective and what is mere aimless running about? In the readings today, we see that diplomacy can get you places and diplomacy can be very effective. But the goal of diplomacy is not the mere motions of diplomacy; it's to get something done. So often in the church (and in our national politics) I think we either mistake playing nicely with one another with diplomacy, or outright belligerence as effectiveness. But I don't think that is correct.
The question these readings make me ask is, What steps will help us get to the healing we want to achieve? Listening to powerless sources (or maybe rude ones), getting effective letters of introduction, taking simple steps, doing the necessary training. What is the actual goal? And what steps do we need to take to get there?