I’ve grown increasingly used to the fact that few value what the single mom might have to say. That most people don’t value what any marginalized or underprivileged member of society thinks, feels or experiences.
If we go to the Bible – God almost always used the marginalized, the weak, and the powerless to accomplish the greatest things. 2000 years later, these stories are still used to teach of God’s character, to empower others and inspire hope. Interestingly, in both secular and non-secular society, we’re still looking to those in power, the most popular, the charismatic, the superstars and the physically attractive to be our role models of success and how to do “life”. Then we usually elect them into politics. Then we complain about how our world is falling apart.
In the Christian world, church attendance is so deeply embedded as the prescription for how to “do” life. Once you’re in church, assuming you look relatively normal (no oozing wounds, don’t appear to be drunk or high, you have both eyeballs, etc.), it becomes about small groups and giving your talents and treasures back to the church, studying and memorizing the Bible. If you have extra time after that – go out into your community and serve. Tell them about Jesus so that they can start coming to church and serving the needs of the church too (which are mostly supporting the institution that cranks out the Sunday performance). Then when confronted with the homeless, the addicts, the criminals we say among ourselves – “They just need Jesus. We need to get them to church”. It seems we’d rather go to church and hear stories of the once marginalized rather than having much to do with them ourselves.
Jesus, the man, made arguably the greatest impact on our world as we know it and he did it by showing us that we find God in loving and serving the least of these, the broken, and the unloved. He became the marginalized. A friend of mine shared this quote from a Facebook post “True worship has little to do with songs, choirs and instruments but everything to do with how we treat the poor, the orphaned, single parents, prisoners, immigrants and the marginalized”
I feel like I’m living in a world where I certainly don’t have all of the answers. I’m fumbling along like everyone else. However, after more than a decade as a member of the marginalized, it is my opinion that mainstream church has got it all wrong. I find myself hungering for the presence of the unashamedly broken because I see and experience God there like I so rarely have in 25 years of regular church attendance. I see God in our conversations and in our relationship. I see God in them.
Christians, this is all so very confusing and heart breaking. I see suffering all around me. I see us proclaiming the love of God but I rarely see us practicing it. I love all of my Christian friends so dearly but I am not seeing God in our churches. I’m just not. It wasn’t until I became a marginalized member in society that I began to see, really see church and Christianity in a new light. My relationship with God is more important than anything else. I need to follow him, not a church/institution/pastor and not what other Christians are doing just because they’ve been told it’s the only way. I’m sad because I know I will likely lose so many of my Christian friends. I will be seen as abandoning my faith as if somehow my faith is inextricably tied to attending church. I see it as going deeper in my faith and spending more time in the places where I am seeing and experiencing God. I’m pretty sure Jesus will be with me 😉
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” – Matthew 25:40
“Each one of them is Jesus in disguise” – Mother Teresa (in reference to the poor)
“We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:22
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found, and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” –Matthew 13:44-46