Reflections on Faith
In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.
Andrew S. Odom
See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. (1 John 3:1)
On Sunday we talked about belonging. In his first letter, John assures us that we belong to God. He has become convinced that, because of Jesus Christ, we are children of God. We belong. But the world doesn’t reflect this reality. We don’t know how to treat each other. We don’t know how to talk to each other. We don’t even know how to look at each other. We don't do community well. We live in a world where, quite often, we feel like we don’t belong. When that is the case; when you feel like you don’t belong, the only one left to fend for is yourself, which makes it all too easy to blame everyone else for you own problems.
Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr calls it the scapegoat mechanism, pointing out that “if your ego is still in charge, you will find a ‘disposable’ person or group on which to project your problems. People who haven’t come to at least a minimal awareness of their own dark side will always find someone else to hate or fear. Hatred holds a group together much more quickly and easily than love and inclusivity, I am sorry to say.”
John would echo Rohr’s sentiment as he paints the reality of God’s belonging. If we are to take John’s words seriously, then our most faithful task is to see others as people who, first and foremost, belong to God. They are not scapegoats for our problems. They are not receptacles for our blame. They are not targets for our complaints. They are part of the family, people we walk alongside with in this life. They belong. This is God's great gift to us in Jesus Christ. So when you are out and about this week, commit yourself to doing the hard work of seeing the people you cross paths with as children of God. Then, treat them that way.
Published on 05/22/2017 @ 6:28 PM CDT
Paul’s shipwreck brought it all home. As Paul and the crew were tossed back and forth across the stage by the wind and the waves, we were reminded of God’s great promise that runs through the whole of scripture. In each story, in every instance and circumstance, we are given a God who is with us from start to finish. This is a God who abides through the raging storms and the calm seas of life. God does not leave, ever. That is the great promise, no matter if the reminder comes from a rainbow in the sky or a movement of the heart.
Published on 05/08/2017 @ 7:11 PM CDT
This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us. (I John 1:2)
On Sunday we began a sermon series called “Life Assurance” that will walk us through the 1st letter of John. 1 John is heralded by many as a capstone to the New Testament. Martin Luther once called it the kind of letter that “can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.” In other words, people think highly of it. In the coming weeks, we will find out why that is, but one thing I can tell you right now is that 1 John sets out to assure us of our new life in Christ. John believes deep down that every day is Easter.
We live in a world that appears divided at every turn. We can’t agree on policy. We can’t agree on who should be in office. We can’t agree on social issues. We can’t agree. But, one thing we can agree on, one thing that no one can deny is that none of us will get out of this world alive. Every single one of us holds death in common. This we can be sure of. What we have a harder time being assured of is life.
In a divided world that often feels like it sucks the life right out of your, we can’t help but wonder if we can have life at all. Do we have life? Will we have life? John’s answer to that question comes with a loud resounding “Yes! We have seen it with our eyes and touched it with our hands.” And with that grand statement John begins a letter that is sure to sink its teeth into your heart. Read it this week when you get a moment. I’ve heard that it can buoy up even the most afflicted heart.
Published on 05/01/2017 @ 9:02 PM CDT
Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)
On Saturday I attended a local fundraiser lunch for the Presbyterian Pan American School down in Kingsville, Texas. PanAm, as it is fondly called, is a “Christian college preparatory school that educates and empowers young adults for leadership in the global community.” It takes students from all over the world, including impoverished countries, and helps open new doors through education and spiritual growth. It is quite a unique place.
During the lunch, we heard from alumni students who went on to further education and are now out in the world. One graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, another Presbyterian affiliated school. He is now working in Dallas. A young lady from Piedras Negras graduated from Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, a Presbyterian affiliated school my grandfather once served as president and where my mother currently works. She talked about how a group of Christians came to Piedras to build a home for her family and how they helped her apply to PanAm. She is now teaching in Fort Worth, seeking ways to help students in poverty succeed more effectively in the classroom. Each of these people got emotional when they shared their experience of how the scope of their lives has completely changed.
What struck me throughout the entire lunch is how much the Presbyterian Church has helped shape these future leaders. They have been introduced to a life of learning, led in the way of faith, and have not departed from that way. They are the kind of folks who understand what it looks like to build cross cultural bridges. I left that gathering filled with a rekindled hope for the future.
Published on 04/24/2017 @ 9:49 PM CDT
Published on 04/17/2017 @ 6:31 PM CDT