Marginality is the affliction and addiction of people who fail to see and sense the tremendous possibilities that would exist in their lives if they would exert a little more effort, a little more trust and a little more faith to live out the lessons of our faith.
We are all doubtless familiar with marginality — those who live on the edges, the margins, the fringes and dare not get involved too deeply or seriously in the thick of things to make a difference.
There are people who are just marginal: marginal employees, marginal supervisors, marginal musicians, marginal relationships, marginal students, marginal teachers, marginal businesses and marginal athletes. There are those who are “good” enough to wear the title associated with an industry or discipline, but not good enough, or proficient enough, to produce, perform or present their very best selves.
These are the people who just won’t dig a little deeper, climb a little higher, pray a little more often, give a little extra time, a little extra push. These are the people about whom we say, “They’re all right” or “They’re OK” but, also, “They are not essential, or that important. If they show up, fine, we’ll find a place for them. But if they don’t show up, we’ll still be fine because they’re just all right people.”
They are marginal, mediocre, average, “nothing special” people. They are people who live right on the edges, the fringes, the people who are usually absent from the core and center of things. These are people who are normally seemingly involved perpetually in cataclysmic circularity.
And their circularity and marginality affect their functionality. As a matter of fact, instead of being functional, many are dysfunctional, people who, when they have presence, have little or no power, people whose marginality neutralizes their productivity.
Some are marginal because of disease, disaster or disability but many others possess attitudinal marginality. It is that group of believers of the faith, but not serious practitioners of the faith, that I challenge to have an attitude adjustment.
The Gospel of Luke from the Christian Scriptures helps us deal with marginality. In a Christian Scriptures commentary entitled, “True to our native land,” Dr. Stephanie Crowder introduces the Gospel of Luke by saying, “The Gospel of Luke begins by presenting Jesus as a Savior accessible to all People.”
In Luke, Jesus transcends race, ethnicity, wealth and poverty. In my view, Luke is a member of the final four whose gospel is directed to the least, the lost, the lame, the left-outs and the looked-overs. Luke helps us consider more deeply the possibilities for a more holistic life for the misdirected, the miserable, the messed-over, the mundane, the motionless and the marginal.
So, in Luke 18:35, the reader is introduced to a man living a marginal life. He is in a pickled predicament. He is marginal because he is blind, sitting and begging. But his predicament of blindness does not prevent him from being persistent in his plea for pity. His persistence pays off when the very person he needs comes to deal with his particularity.
The blind man is miraculously healed, not by a touch from the Lord, but by the blind man’s own exercise of faith in the Lord. His faith saves him. His “exercised belief” in livable possibilities brings this man to wholeness.
The once blind man, through the amazing grace of the Lord, now pursues holiness with praise. The healed man moves from disgrace to dignity and from marginality to meaningful productivity. He understands now that he is called not only to suffer and sacrifice, but also to serve.
May the Lord help us to do likewise. Amen!