By: Jonie Buckley
“And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”
Luke 13:30 NLT
When I consider where I have truly seen the heart of God, it wasn’t in the places or with the people you might expect. It wasn’t in houses of worship, or even among the majority of people who follow Jesus. I easily and quickly found the heart of God in the places and with the people who are living on the fringe.
When we consider the fringe in our society, we tend to include those who are the most vulnerable, overlooked, forgotten, and often unable to contribute much to society; certainly not the upstanding respectable members of society who are living their best life. But the more I think about those who are on the fringe, I realize the concentric circles of those who move to the outer circle, or fringe, are ever changing from setting to setting. My definition is widening. I see the fringe everywhere. People on the fringe are present in every arena where we live, work, and serve. They are even present where we worship. You will see them as God gives you His heart for them. He has done this with my husband since he surrendered his life to Christ in high school. He would seek out the students sitting by themselves during lunch, the ones without any friends or crowds around them. He consistently found those on the fringe and loved and valued them, as Jesus does. He teaches me to do the same.
I have noticed that I often find myself on the fringe in some settings. Perhaps that is even how my husband found me. I’m believing you have been on the fringe at some point as well, maybe even now as you read this. You don’t have to be homeless and desolate to be on the fringe:
You can be the lonely person in a crowded room.
You can be silently struggling while others around you seem joyful.
You can be the one at your job who cannot afford to eat out with coworkers on your lunch break.
You can be the one that struggles through academics or sports while it comes easily for your siblings.
You can be the one without a spouse, kids, or biological parents as others share stories of theirs.
You can be the one estranged from your family members or the only one following Jesus.
You can be the one who battles anxiety or depression while peace is easily found for others.
You can be the one suffering loss while others are celebrating gain.
You can be the one with physical limitations while others go about life unhindered.
You can be the one who used to live independently and are now dependent on care.
You can be the one who is in need of healing or forgiveness from your past.
You can be the one desperate for genuine relationships, rather than being used for your wealth.
“She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.”
Luke 2:7 NLT
There is no one who could ever understand life on the fringe better than Jesus. I think one reason Jesus came to this earth as a human (and God) and was born in the most humble of circumstances was so He could personally experience life as others do on the fringe. I recently watched a documentary where some refugee families had escaped and were living in a barn. When a Christ follower found them and shared Jesus with them, he shared the story of Jesus’ birth in the gospel of Luke. When they heard that Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born in the same conditions as they were currently living, they had an immediate connection with our Savior, like no other could experience! Jesus was born on the fringe, came to save those on the fringe, and ministered to them as He lived and died for them. May we look for those who are on the fringe and give them Jesus. This is truly where we will find the heart of God, and each other.
May we follow Your example of intentionally seeking out those on the fringe as we continue Your ministry. We thank You for including all who give their allegiance to You, in Your Kingdom. Amen.
“The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”
Matthew 25:40 CEV