On the Margins…

Sting, whose music I have always been a fan of, discusses the use of silence in music as being one of the more critical elements… actually he basically suggest that the song is really just a frame around the silence, and that is the most important part, and for us in the west it is an uncomfortable part.

It is important in life to take a moment on occasion and stare hard into the margins…stand back and look intently at the edges of life, the undefined and foggy perimeters that we normally discard in order to pursue our goals…and sometimes when you do that you become aware that the margins are really the actual thing and not the focus that you have been following.

As  believer I have had to do this recently and the picture that emerged was startling to say the least…it disrupted my mode of life and the model it was riding in.

I have been driven my entire life to build up, create, sustain, encourage and maintain the body of Christ, I started when I was 2 and my Dad became a Pentecostal Pastor, and I graduated into that world without even thinking about it, it has always been “what you do”…no questions asked.

The particular model of life that emerged from this penumbra of circumstance was basically joined without much thought or question, as is normal for most of us.

I had a room mate in college who told me I was only a Christian because I grew up in the USA and my parents were Pastors, my response was “No I am a believer because God appeared to me when I was six years old”…which was my conversion experience…no sinners prayer, no one else in the room, just me and the Son of God standing above the doorway demanding my allegiance…my Mom wrote it in my baby book after I went in and told her what had happened.

I have never once seriously doubted the existence of God from that moment on…but it has not stopped doubt from creeping into how I relate.

Recently…I have been forced to the margins and have had some rather intense conversations with many who are sharing the same journey in various stages of map-less anxiety as you cross over boundaries you never thought you would encounter.

One such boundary is how we are currently expressing body-life and the authority structure that sustains it…I  have had to revisit margins of how we do church and as I stand back and look at it I realize this is the seedy part of the shape…control, submission, money, worship, even actual physical architecture are pointing to some rather ugly realities, realities I would not have visited if I had not decided to launch out into the “land that I will show you”…

As long as we continue to sustain a top down hierarchy instead of an “among” position of empowerment, until we release resource and value instead of collect it, when we stop imposing submission to one particular vision and instead become enraptured with the journey and story of our fellow combatants, the amount of life we draw from the body of Christ will be a small cup of juice sucked through a stirring stick as my friend Ryan would say.

There’s an old adage “If its not broken don’t fix it” that seems to be the main focus of the church in the west…but we should not ignore the margins of “if its not working, its broken”…

The margins are really what you see when you back away from the intrinsic and captivating…its the forest not the trees that will stand out in our history.

My point is probably this: God is pushing many of the Levites out into the margins, and it would be good for us to remember that God very rarely showed up where we expect Him…it was Moses and a bush out in the desert, Gideon hiding in a wine-press, David out in the sheep fold, a feed trough in a manger and religious Zealot persecuting the Way…if we ignore the margins and the truth they blatantly declare we just might find our wicks burned out and we have run out of oil at just the wrong time because the focus and redundant rhythm of life lulled us to sleep when we least expected it.

Maybe you aren’t there yet…if not that’s ok…but you should at least check out the reality of what is on the edge of the city you live in…you just might hear the cry of the fatherless and the weeping of the widow and I know these are the things God is concerned about, don’t let the din of the traffic dull your ears to what is coming from the desert.


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