The Odd Man Out

Ruth was a literal outsider, but Naomi felt like an outsider. Though she was part of God’s people by birth, she felt as though God had abandoned her and that she’d ended up outside of God’s favor and plan. Do you ever feel like an outsider in your own faith? Have you ever sat with a group of people and thought, “I don’t belong”? Sesame Street had a segment that helped children identify patterns. The jingle that went with it sang, “One of these things is not like the other.” Naomi felt like she was the different one. This is relatable for many people of faith; when we compare our experience with others, especially within the church, we may find ourselves feeling on the outs. Maybe it is your circumstances, like Naomi experienced, where everyone else feels #blessed, and your life feels like it is falling apart. Maybe everyone else seems to have solid church community, but you are lonely. It could be that everyone leans one way politically, but you feel differently. Perhaps you are a single adult in a sea of married people. Whatever the reason, you feel like the odd one out. Russell Moore writes, “We now see young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches, but because they believe the church itself does not believe what the church teaches. The presenting issue in this secularization is not scientism and hedonism but disillusionment and cynicism” (Russell Moore, “Losing Our Religion,” [blog], April 15, 2021, Naomi certainly seems, from our reading, disillusioned and cynical, which makes her happy ending that much sweeter. When we are feeling like an outsider, might we be mindful that perseverance can lead to renewed faith? We may need to make some changes, like Naomi did, but God remains faithful to both the literal and figurative outsiders.