Villodas Takes DEEP FAITH into “The Depths of the Soul”
From monks to a congregation representing 75 nations, no one feels a stranger to Rich Villodas. The pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in New York City, Villodas brought a warm demeanor and a call to community with God and others for the 2020 DEEP FAITH Week at Gordon.
Over the course of four sermons, Villodas preached that all people can grow in their walk with God, challenging students, faculty and staff to reflect on both the internal and external aspects of faith by “Becoming Deeply Formed in a World that Lives on the Surface.”
Session 1: Deep Prayer (Psalm 27)
Like farmers cling to the rope between their barn and their houses as they traverse through a blizzard, believers should be tethered to prayer through a storm of “political idolatry, racial hostility, technological insanity and social and individual anxiety,” Villodas said in his opening talk.
Villodas gave two key points to beholding God’s presence in the midst of a chaotic world: befriending silence and normalizing boredom. If Christians worship their experience with God rather than God himself, he says, they will only approach him in moments of strength. “That’s where we need to normalize boredom and just be with God . . . Your ability to be silent with someone is a reflection of the depth of your life with them.”
Watch Monday morning’s sermon >
Session 2: Deep Interior Life (Psalm 139)
When the Titanic began sinking in 1912, people below the deck first became aware while passengers above carried on in peace. Villodas finds it a similar experience for the inner self versus the external self.
“On the upper deck of our lives, everything often looks wonderful,” he said. “And yet on the lower decks of our soul, there’s often chaos and anxiety and despair.” Like David listened to his internal self in Psalm 139, Christians are called to reflect on emotions within—the issue is that we’re typically afraid of what we’ll find.
“Whenever we try to submerge something that’s happening inside of us, it inevitably comes out,” Villodas said, exploring the theology of emotions. “Our body begins to manifest what’s happening in the soul.”
Watch Monday evening’s sermon >
Session 3: The Pathway to Transformation (II Kings 5)
On the topic of transformation, Villodas shared his testimony and how he gave his life to Christ at age 19. Once he began attending church regularly, he discovered that “Jesus wants to transform lives. Not just one time, but over and over again.” This change, he says, occurs through humility.
Villodas offered three tools for humble transformation through the Holy Spirit: laying down control and entitlement, doing what we don’t want to do, and repeating simple acts like reading the Bible and praying.
Watch Tuesday evening’s sermon >
Session 4: The Abiding Life (John 15)
Building upon Monday’s message on dwelling in the presence of God, Villodas shared the importance of dwelling among others. “A good measure of discipleship is not how much Bible I have in my head, but the state of my heart toward people different from me,” he shared.
In order to dwell in our relationship with God, we must dwell with others—not just tolerating them but loving one another as Christ loved us. Villodas expressed the importance of seeking relationship with people amidst disconnection, distraction and disagreement.
“To love one another,” he says, “means that we deeply listen to one another.”
Watch Wednesday morning’s sermon >
By Ellian Chalfant ’22, communication arts and Spanish