Hiding in Plain Sight: The Sickness Unto Death

Today’s post is part of a series to help us take what we learn on Sunday into the rest of the week. These posts summarize the main points from the week’s sermon and include questions for continued reflection and prayer. The posts in this series are written by members of our church’s Adult Christian Formation team.


This past Sunday our service theme was “God Knows Us.” Pastor Bobby preached on 2 Kings 5:1-19, and the basic theme of his sermon was that God heals the deep sickness caused by our attempts to ground our identity in something other than God. The story of Naaman in 2 Kings demonstrates this gospel truth.

Naaman was highly successful in life except for one thing: he had leprosy. In the Bible, leprosy brings death, whether physical or just social. When God healed him, Naaman received healing in all areas of life.

The Danish writer Søren Kierkegaard has pointed out that our refusal to build our identity on God is a sickness unto death. As we build our identities on ourselves, on things like being successful, we become distant from who we are meant to be in relation to God.

Naaman was healed through weakness and grace. God dismantled Naaman’s false sense of self by humbling him. In the story of Naaman’s healing, the heroes were all weak people like slaves. He received grace from a slave girl who had been taken into captivity and didn’t have any obvious reason for helping him.

Jesus heals us by getting close to us and taking on the consequences of our sickness. When Naaman was healed by God, there were signs of a deeper healing in his life. He built an altar for God instead of for himself. He also brought God into the rest of his life.

Questions for prayer and reflection: 

  1. Are there areas in which you have found great success in life? Have any ways that you have been successful led to a lack of dependence on God?
  2. What might a community shaped by identities rooted only in God be like?
  3. Do you know anyone in need of deep healing? How can you show that person grace as part of God’s work in bringing that healing to them?
  4. Are you “building” for God’s glory in your main pursuits in life? How might you better be able to bring God into areas of your life beyond church?