As a follower of Christ, I sense it all the time in conversations with others who a) are not a follower of Christ or b) are only a nominal Christian. It gets easier to detect the more contact you have with the person.
I usually notice it in the eyes. It’s a far-off look. A shift, a blink, a quick glance away. Sometimes I hear it in their voice or in their polite avoidance of topics of significance.
I’ve been marginalized.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling of being “labeled.” It can happen in any area of life for which you’re passionate. It’s how people deal with you. Heck, you do it to others. Typically, it’s how we relate with people that we may be a little uncomfortable with.
“He’s an Amway rep.” (or insert any other MLM company)
“She is a dog freak.”
“Uh-oh, here comes Mr. Granola. Don’t let him see the milk carton in your trash can.”
We label and compartmentalize people so that we can deal with them better. When we put them into a category, we marginalize them. When they’re marginalized, then their particular passion or interest has no effect on us. It’s been relegated to a file somewhere – to only be examined if we’re truly interested… later… if ever.
The problem with what we all do is that we miss out on truly relating with another person. And even if we’re not passionate about cloth diapers or homeschooling or pet adoption or the like, we can still relate and enjoy their part in the Grand Drama.
If everyone played the role I play, it would be a fantastic gig, but pretty short-lived, right? We desperately need to wide swath of colors, hues and views that other people’s passions paint on life’s canvas.
When we marginalize people, we force ourselves to see life in monotone.
Another danger in marginalization is that we may actually miss truth.
You see, when I sense that I’m being marginalized, it most often comes as a result of my joy in Jesus.
“Here comes the preacher…”
“He thinks he’s a real Christian…”
If Jeff Noble is being marginalized, that’s one thing. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is marginalized, that’s an entirely other thing.
If you push truth to the side, if you relegate it to a mental file somewhere, if you stick it in a compartment… you essentially begin living half-life.
Even Jesus faced marginalization:
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6.65-68)
That’s the danger of marginalization. If you relegate an important/truthful message to some mental or digital graveyard, your world suddenly becomes only what you make it to be. You will suddenly begin living a life and reality that only you define. If you push the magnificent to the margins, you’ll discover at some point that your life page is bland – or even worse, blank. And if you choose to live in the margins, you’ll be ignoring the content that lies between them.