Christianity 201

March 3, 2014

Biblical Networking

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:28 pm
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One thing I love about my present job is that I often get to do some networking to help person “A” connect with person “B” after the former has stated a particular need or interest. Because I know a little bit about a diverse number of believers in our community, I can usually sense if the former might be well-served to get to know the latter, and also if the latter is going to be willing to offer the help, advice or service needed.

At the service we attended this weekend, we looked again at the story of Naaman who is healed of leprosy by bathing seven times in the Jordan. If you don’t know this story, you can read it now in II Kings 5: 1-19. If you’re paying attention in church, no matter how familiar the story, I guarantee that you’ll hear something new or discover new insights as you listen and read along. For me, that happened in verses two and three:

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Described only as “a young girl,” not named, we simply know that she was from Israel and hence knew (of) Elisha the prophet. In All the Women of the Bible we read:

Some twenty words cover all we know of this Jewish female slave whose record consists of only one remark, which is often sufficient to describe a character as it does in the story of this nameless heroine. Mary Hallet reminds us that “one of the most amazing things about Bible stories is their sheer restraint. With one or two deft strokes a scene is painted, a character is sketched, or an incident described…. There is, I say, something astonishing in the terse poetry of the Bible.”

Matthew Henry says,

The unhappy dispersing of the people of God has sometimes proved the happy occasion of the diffusion of the knowledge of God.

and then cites Acts 8,

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

If you’re not familiar with it, this might be a good time to get to know the term diaspora which means scattering or spreading about.

Biblical NetworkingToday, we might use the word networking to describe what the young girl did. She knew someone who could help and was willing to speak up, even though this was probably not normally her place to do so. To me, the boldness of the maid servant of Naaman’s wife is reminiscent of Esther, who speaks up for her people at great risk.  In chapter four of that book, we read,

11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives…”

But this doesn’t stop Esther and she finally brings about the rescue of her people from certain death. Quoting the passage, we say that she was raised up “for such a time as this,” and certainly there are times that God places people in pivotal situations for key tasks.

We could equally say that Naaman’s wife’s servant girl was placed in that household “for such a time as this.”

There is a danger here in reducing opportunities like this to simple networking that misses the point of obedience in speaking up. It’s also easy miss the providence by which a simple word, a simple mention of a person who can help or a book that might be beneficial can have far reaching consequences beyond the immediate person in the conversation.

We see this in the Second Testament with Andrew. Some feel that Andrew’s greatest act was done at his initial calling insofar as the first thing he did was to get his brother:

John 1:40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus…

Again, we can’t diminish the plan of God in Peter’s inclusion among The Twelve, but on a human level, it begins with Andrew’s networking. “Hey, I have a brother who might be up for this, give me a few minutes to go get him!”

In this case, it’s not a referral that’s given, as in the sense of the maid-servant’s reference to Elisha; rather, in this case, Andrew goes out and then brings Peter to Jesus.

Of course, our ultimate purpose is Kingdom networking or bringing people to God. But like the unnamed servant girl, like Esther, like Andrew, we have to be willing to turn the thought into something vocalized. We have to be willing to speak up.

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