Jesus came to us precisely because we are outside of God but never outside of God’s love. When we see people in difficult circumstances, we can be a part of God’s plan by sharing some of the Love God has put into our own lives.
What Does Living “On the Margins” Mean?
Living on the margins can mean several things.
Living “on the margins of society” refers to living outside of a religious or social group. In the time of Christ, this was a geographical reality. People who were sick or in need were pushed to the areas outside of cities. This isn’t always literally the case today, though sometimes it is.
In philosophy, “the margins of life” describes the very young and the very old. People in these age groups often have difficulty caring for themselves and may not always get the legal or social support and protections they need.
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In either sense, living on the margins means being seen as “outside” of some imaginary, “typical” human experience. Sometimes the people we encounter may hover outside society because of poverty, mental illness, age, legal issues, discrimination, or social circumstances. We must be careful not to marginalize others in our own minds. Jesus himself spent time with people on the outskirts. We are called to do the same.
We Should Care for Others as Jesus Did
Being a living witness of God’s love to those already close to us is a vital mission. However, we often encounter people to whom we are not close but who are also in need of God’s care. What do we do in these situations? Jesus spells it out for us in the Gospel of Matthew, in the familiar parable of the Sheep and the Goats (25:31-46).
This is the passage in which Jesus tells us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit those in prison. For, as Jesus says,
“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”Matthew 25:40
You can welcome the stranger by going out of your way to greet people you don’t recognize in your community or at your religious service. There are even outreach programs in many correctional institutions that let people write letters to those serving time to remind them that they are cared about and valued, and can live a reformed life.
If you feel called to help people who are struggling, consider talking to the leaders of congregations in your area to see if there are outreach or mission opportunities that you can be a part of.
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Live the Gospel
It can be easy to ignore the suffering of people “outside” of your everyday interactions, or to attribute their struggles to their own decisions or a lack of shared faith. However, this is not the Christian way.
The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t judge those who are less fortunate and that we should help them in their time of need, bearing the Gospel along the way.