Reflections on Faith and Community

Dear friends,

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

05/22/2017 6:28 PM

Scapegoating vs. Belonging

05/22/2017 6:28 PM
05/22/2017 6:28 PM

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.

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