Are you marginalized?

Posted: May 18, 2011 in christianity, culture, personal, theology, Uncategorized

The other day I was talking to one of my former professors and a mentor of mine and I asked him about the reasoning behind his upcoming move to Atlanta. He explained to me that he wanted more influence among African Americans and in the Los Angeles area that was difficult because we are a smaller minority than in other cities and this results in being marginalized. His comments haunted me because for most of my life I have felt marginalized. I feel as if I have always held the minority position. The unpopular viewpoint. The peculiar social situation. Let’s add all of my peculiar angles together: black male (as opposed to just male), seminary student, pentecostal-charismatic, pastor and part of the Vineyard movement. Now most of these categories were not entered into of my own free will but some of them were entered into of my own accord. The problem is I have never found a home or felt at home in all of them. And all this time I have been trying to pull myself away from the margins and try to become a part of the mainstream. Inevitably the mainstream always rubs me the wrong way and I even find myself at odds with others on the margins. As I have been contemplating this I have made a commitment to avoid even being among the so called “mainstream”. It is a fruitless quest. I believe it’s fruitless for two reasons: God has called me to be marginalized and being a Christian means being marginalized. God has chosen the marginalized as the people he draws closer to himself.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were marginalized nomads
Joseph was a marginalized Hebrew in an Egyptian government
Moses was marginalized as he chose to lead Hebrew slaves out of Egypt
David was a marginalized shepherd boy
As Israelite society found itself leaning towards the prestige and power of other nations
God chose marginalized prophets to call them back to doing justice at the margins
God became a man in Jesus Christ was a marginalized Galilean rabbi who died at the hands of the Romans and Jews….
God chose twelve marginalized Jews to spread the message that Jesus rose from the dead and that the kingdom of God is near

I have never looked at the blessing of being at the margins. It is where God lives.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever felt marginalized? Do you think being a Christian means being marginalized?

  1. there are times that i do feel marginalized, but for most of my life i reflect back and my response is: no, i always felt like people included me, even in gatherings and places where i was a minority, they made me feel special. even as a step-child with my step-father’s family. even with hispanic and african-american friends and gatherings.

    …and that gift given to me much of my life is what i want to pass on to others who are marginalized or feel that way…i want to gift them with feeling included and special to be “with” us, beside each other…

    i also think that being a Christian means being marginalized, at least seeing it that way is the only way i can make sense of so much of what Jesus said…


  2. i’ve been thinking more about this and being Christian has to mean being marginalized…and it seems to me there’s an audacity to it and a partisan-orientation theollgically and practically that comes with it.

    the prophetic voice comes from ther margins and the role of the prophetic isn’t necessarily concerned with seeing things in an eternal perspective, but leaves that to sages and wise men and kings. i like how walter brueggemann states how the prophet (ala abraham heschel) is overwhelmed with the pathos of God, and from that inherits – in all its audacity – the fact that God is not the neutral, inattentive God, but rather God is alert to the specific realities of any situation, and does not flinch from taking sides, usually the side of the marginalized. thus the prophetic task from the place of marginalization always sees the moment for what it is, always takes place in a context, and speaks from that context in a specific way even at the risk of paradox and contradiction of the eternal-perspective, but mysteriously embraces both critique and worshipful trust so as not to wither into mere ideological posturing…in the moment and historical circumstance the prophetic perspective stands with God as the most free Person engaged in the politics of justice and the economics of mercy over-against the static triumphalism of the elite’s religion of denial, politics of alienation/division and the economics of oppression…

    thus, to be a Christian is to posture ourselves with the marginal no matter our circumstance…

    • mayotron says:

      Steven. I have been without a laptop for a couple weeks so I am just now reading this and it is a lot to chew on. I think that giving people something to chew on is your specialty. You need to get paid for it!

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