Bethel Baptist Church: December 10, 2017: 10:15 am
God and the Marginalized explored the relationship between the Sovereign God and people who are marginalized by the systems of the world. It begins by considering 1Corinthians Chapter 1: 26-29 which states “Now remember what you were, my friends, when God called you. From the human point of view, few of you were wise or powerful or of high social standing. God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important. This means that no one can boast in God’s presence.”
God and the Marginalized ask the question, was Paul the Roman citizen who spoke at least four languages; the Jewish scholar educated in the Academy of Gamaliel and great Christian theologian being condescending and insulting in address Corinthian Christians as he had done? The answer is no. Paul was, in fact, saying that most Corinthian Christians were no different from their Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
When God revealed himself to humankind, God came as a marginal man. Jesus was conceived out of wedlock. His mother and his step-father were persons of relatively low social rank. Both were persons of very modest means. Jesus was born in an unimportant rural village in the most inauspicious circumstances. He went to school but did not go above the elementary level. After leaving the school he did vocational training and became a carpenter. He was an itinerant preacher and teacher, not sanctioned by the High Priest. He was charged with a crime but declared innocent by the judge. Yet, he was condemned and executed like a common criminal. There was no public protest of this gross injustice. Indeed, the crowd shouted for the release of a guilty man instead of Jesus. He was executed on a cross, the most ignominious form of capital punishment employed by the Roman Empire. He was buried in a borrowed tomb. Jesus owned no property. He had just about enough to take care of his daily needs. The life of Jesus revealed that it is being not having that is supreme. The goal of life is to become like God by being obedient to, in compliance with, and congruent to His Word, His Way, and His Will.
God and the Marginalized points to the fact that the disciples Jesus chose were no different from their Master and most of the Corinthian believers with respect to social circumstances and human credentials. While the occupations of the twelve disciplines are not fully known several were fishermen, some were tradesmen, one belonged to the despised occupation of a tax collector, one was a rebel and one was obsessed with money which finally led to his downfall. None was of aristocratic birth, or of great intellectual learning, or of military fame or priestly upbringing or of repute in matters of law or medicine. They were nobodies from a human and social perspective. It is by following Jesus that they are remembered and revered. Following Jesus made them somebodies.
God and the Marginalized make the point that Jesus never romanticized marginality and poverty. When Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But Jesus said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.
Again John 6: 25 to 27 recorded the fact that when great crowded followed Jesus after His miracle of feeding thousand Jesus said “I tell you the solemn truth, you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate all the loaves of bread you wanted. Do not work for the food that disappears, but for the food that remains to eternal life.
Marginality is a social fact of a human society constructed in defiance of God’s way. It is not a fatal disease of a terminal condition not permanent. Marginality is a circumstance to be overcome through the power of God. Wealth and social importance are not forbidden nor are they signs of superiority. They blessings to be treated with a great sense of stewardship.
God’s Way contradicts human wisdom; contradicts human habits of attributing worth and value; and contradicts human practices and strategies. Why? Because all Glory belongs to God.