Prayer, Plain and Simple

Shame by association seems to be sweeping the Sooner Nation today. Jeffrey Landrigan, who escaped from an Oklahoma prison in 1989 then robbed at gunpoint and murdered an Arizona man, was executed last night uttering his last words, “Boomer Sooner.”  Bummer!

“Boomer Sooner” is the proud battle cry of the University of Oklahoma. Sooners across the nation are groaning in collective disgrace at a fate worse than losing to Texas…  to find themselves and their great University forcefully associated with pitiful creature like Landrigan.

Every family and fraternity can relate. There’s Aunt Myra who drinks too much, cousin Ed who talks a blue streak and couldn’t can’t keep a family secret if it killed him, Brother Tom who’s been bankrupt three times… the roommate who eats way too much… We all have forced associations that shame us. Then again, we ourselves have probably embarrassed the family name a time or two ourselves.

But we don’t have to be victims of association… Jesus himself had more than one loser in his family line. In his genealogy recorded in Matthew we find a prostitute, a murderer, a couple of adulterers, and a long list of crooked kings who seriously abused power. Still, the shame of family didn’t corrupt him. Jesus stood above it.

There are no perfect families in the world. There are no perfect Universities, churches, or social clubs. To join anything is to be marred by residual scum of human folly connected to that something. And we are not only victims of this; we are perpetrators ourselves.

But it doesn’t doom us. Like Jesus, we can associate with the dirt and rise above it. We can be IN but not OF the world! Welcome, Sooner Nation to the fate we all face – being accidently associated with the garbage heap of life. The good news: being a “Sooner” or a “Longhorn” or a “Trojan” or whatever does not have to be our core identity. We can be a “Jesus Follower” and never fear being shamed by association!

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