It doesn't occur to most of us, when we read 2 Kings 8 about Gehazi speaking with the king, that this is a leper who ought to have no court with the king at all. That's because, overwhelmingly, we are comfortable by this point with Gehazi as the man of the man of God. He has been named by name a number of times, and we know who he is.
The whole leprosy thing? It's one sentence. A mere footnote in Gehazi's story. Something most of us read right by or at least, quickly forget. The truth is that a mere 2 chapters after it, a lot of us even forget that Gehazi schemed to his own advantage and took advantage of the healed Naaman.
Why? How? How is it so easy for us to forget these kinds of things? In today's world of headlines, where any man or woman can be blackballed forever for the slightest of offenses, it doesn't seem possible to just...forget like that. This is headline-worthy stuff. Isn't it?
Here's what's really happening: it's not that we're forgiving of Gehazi. It's not that we're forgetful of him. What's really going on is that we're so wrapped up in not-Gehazi's-story that our focus is on bigger things, as it should be.
When we talk about the way that Gehazi scams Naaman into giving him some of the gifts that he'd brought for his healing, we're not really thinking about Gehazi because we're focused on Naaman. His is the story of healing. His is the testimony to the powerful act of God. Gehazi shows up as a bit character, a quiet little thread tying things together.
When we talk about Gehazi standing before king, we're not really thinking about Gehazi because the emphasis here is on the man of God and the acts of the man of God. The emphasis is on the great and incredible and amazing power of God. Gehazi shows up as a bit character. Again, a quiet little thread tying things together.
That's also why it's so easy for God to continue to use Gehazi well past the point when he should have been cut off from community. God, too, continues to see him as the man of the man of God. God, too, naturally reads him into the story in the places where it's only realistic for him to be. He's still one small character in God's great big story, a quiet little thread tying things together.
It's hard for us to imagine. We can't understand why his leprosy is not front and center, why it doesn't steal every narrative about Gehazi from 2 Kings 6 onward. Certainly, had we been there, we never would have forgotten it.
But it's really quite simple: it's not just Gehazi's story. It's not even primarily Gehazi's story. It's God's story, and it always has been. And if God decides to use a leper to tie His story together, then God is going to use a leper to tie His story together and it's not up to us to see any less of the leper than the fullness God intends through him.
In fact, I think this is the posture we ought to take toward every story, including our own. Because the truth is that there's something about every one of us that probably disqualifies us. There's something about each of us that you could dig up out of our past and use it to declare that we don't belong in the King's court. If you focus on our stories, there's plenty to scoff at, plenty to dislike, plenty to discredit.
But it's not just our story. It's not even primarily our story. It's God's story, and it always has been. And if God decides to use sinners - to use lepers and liars and scammers and cheaters and rapists and murderers and gossips and the insecure and the uncertain and the diseased and the ill-at-ease and the ugly and the dumb and the broken - to tie His story together, then God is going to use us to tie His story together.
And who are we - ever - to see any less of a man than the fullness God intends through him?