That’s become a very popular saying in some circles, “Jesus sat with the marginalized.” The implication being, if you follow Jesus you better sit with the marginalized, too. I’ve declined to argue about it because it’s so packed with ideology, hyperbole, politics, and rhetoric, nobody is even listening anymore.
Yep, talking to some of you totally woke Twitter Pastor-logians.
Here’s the problem with that saying. I totally get our push to help people understand that Jesus came down and went low, that he went out deliberately seeking the outsiders, the castaways, the rejects, the lepers, those who were low on the human hierarchy. “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.” Blessed be the poor, the meek, the sick…
Also, He is often speaking to people who were Jews under Roman rule, so oppressed, living behind enemy lines in occupied territory. Those things are all true.
The thing is, when the Creator of the universe, the One who hung the stars in the sky, comes to sit down with you, you are marginalized no more. Jesus transforms you, He changes everything. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
Jesus didn’t say, come let us just sit here and be marginalized together forever.
So the woman at the well, the one with five husbands, the one who was socially distanced and had to go get water alone, she was seen and heard by Jesus and as such, marginalized no more. In fact, she went from social outcast to evangelizing a whole village. Listen to her words, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
The adulteress about to be stoned meets Jesus and goes from being marginalized on death row to being condemned no more.
The blind, the lame, the lepers, are all healed. Marginalized no more.
There is no “sitting” going on here, as if to just say, Yep you’re just a member of the marginalized, always have been, always will be. It just is what it is. Instead, Jesus very clearly said, Do you wish to be healed? Also, Rise up and walk! And, By your faith you are healed.
They are all seen, heard, and known by the Creator of heaven and earth. They become the sons and daughters of a most high God. They are invited to sit with Jesus in victory at the right hand of the Father. This is a total upgrade of their entire worldly identity. When people come to Jesus Christ, we are marginalized no more.
I really wish we would pay better attention to our words and our labels. Words like “underprivileged, disadvantaged, oppressed, and marginalized” are really just all about keeping people in their place and denying the power that Christ has to change our whole identity.
True story, this Christian guy, probably intending to be kind and helpful once said, “it must be very hard being so disadvantaged and trapped in a sexist system with so much inequality. “ I actually got all teary, not because he empathized, but because I realized he would never be able to see me as anything greater, that he wasn’t even aware Jesus Christ lived within me, and that I was just a prisoner of his imagination.
An object of his own creation to be pitied. A tragic and epic failure, really. A tool to make himself feel better. That was my designated role and it always would be.