Monday, August 06, 2007

words of wisdom, quotable quotes

when i received a personal update email from a close friend this morning, i was amazed by the following quote. i would like to say more, but i really need to get to work:

"I have been thinking about the fact that we idolize ministry among the "marginalized." We want to minister to these folks because that's who Jesus was especially concerned about... but even in our churches we want them on the margins. We don't want to give them the microphone... at least not for more than a quick 2-5 minute testimony. The rest of the time we want someone "educated," "balanced" and "together" up front, keeping order. But real ministry among the "marginalized" makes you marginalized! It is messy and unruly and uneducated and emotional and gutsy and shabby and embarrassing. It's hard to be in fellowship with those who are hard-core, right wing republican / homophobic and loud about it! Ugh! What do we do? Stay and give? Stay and be embarrassed and frustrated?"

thoughts?

5 comments:

Agent B said...

Aww man, I have no thoughts.

But this quote is exactly true. And I agree with every bit of it.

And hopefully, someone will start a conversation about it. Because I can't.

Beth said...

On my first time scanning this, I thought it was a clever "gotcha" post revealing only at the very end that the point was how the new "marginalized" are Republican cultural conservatives, and we cool "I'm a Jesus-follower" types don't want to stay and be associated with them.
....Then I figured out I had one too many levels of irony.

carl said...

That quote is very insightful. I think favoritism towards anybody is wrong. It's healthy to hang out with those who are extremely different from us and it's healthy to hang out with those who are like minded. I'm not quite sure Jesus gravitated towards the marginalized. He just hung out with everybody from all backgrounds. Because Jesus didn't play favorites he didn't marginalize.

kidpositive said...

i'm not quite sure i understand the definition of 'marginalized' here. it seems that your friend equates being marginalized with poverty. Zaccheus was a chief tax-collector, so he wasn't poor. and Jesus went to eat at his house.

in my experience, i've found that nearly ALL relationships, if you really put effort into them and care about them, are messy, unruly and all that other stuff that your friend mentioned. i don't really understand why people choose to focus so much on one people group...it seems to me that following Jesus is about continually caring and ministering to everyone around you, whether it's the poor, or the elderly, or the WalMart executive.

this will sound very un-PC, but in my opinion ministering to the poor is often easier than *really* ministering to other parts of society (as opposed to just giving people starbucks and a fancy sermon on sunday mornings). this is mainly due to the fact that the poor often have a physical need that can be immediately met (food, housing, help w/ bills, etc.) what's more difficult, i've found, is to find ways to share the gospel with people that seemingly don't need anything at all. in these cases, our simple justifications for the gospel don't really stand up...which is what makes this type of ministry so difficult. yet it's something that should never be ignored.

i'm not saying the poor shouldn't be ministered to. what i'm saying is that to think of the poor as being "more in need" than any of the rest of society, is to forget the notion all of humanity, regardless of social status, is essentially in a common state of spiritual need. when you start to see this need all around you, you begin to realize that ministering is much more about living a compassionate, caring and humble life, than it is about "reaching" a certain people group.

g13 said...

KidPositive, i think that in a sense you're tracking with my friend when she says that we shouldn't "idolize" ministry among the marginalized. i'm pretty sure that this individual would also agree that all people need to be ministered to and sharing life with those in higher tax brackets can be tricky as well.

i think one of the writer's points was that although we rightly value ministering to the poor and disenfranchised (whose care does seem to be prioritized in scripture in the fatherless, orphan, widow passages) we often do not want to deal with the intended and unintended consequences of such a ministry.

thus, we often value serving the poor but we want to do so on our terms. i am so with the author in regards to worship. i find the overly emotive, unstructured and often haphazard worship experiences that characterize many communities that focus on the marginalized quite difficult to deal with. from my perspective, i expect word and sacrament to strengthen and empower me for ministry among the marginalized. i'm not all that interested in receiving word and sacrament in an environment that has been shaped by the needs of the marginalized.

i'm probably just muddying the waters here, but that's what i'm thinking.