It is easy to think the “margins” are over there somewhere but the truth of the matter is this…not only are the margins closer than you think, the margins are actually within you. What kind of margins am I talking about? When we use phrases like the “margins of society” we are usually talking about the down and out, those who have difficulty belonging, the disenfranchised and “marginalized” of the world. So when we say “margins” it is usually used in the sense of people “other” than us. It is used of people who we think are mostly not like ourselves.
This comes from a belief that the margins and the marginalized are “out there” somewhere. It doesn’t seem very close to home. The truth of the matter is the margins are not just without…the margins are also within. This is true in two ways, two sides of the same coin. In one sense, the margins are within the heart of every Christian as we are called to be aliens and strangers in this world (1 Peter 2:11). We are called to a new belonging that excludes belonging to the old order of things. That is the bright side of the margins being within us. However, that is only one side of the coin.
The dark side of the margins living within us is that each and every one of us has the propensity to sin. Each and every one of us has the ability to inflict pain on others. You and me and every other adult within 10,000 miles of you has the ability to indulge in things that are unhealthy which reminds us that the things we typically associate with people who are broken on the margins can also be present in our lives. Maybe we hide it better. Maybe we manage it better. Or maybe we just haven’t had the circumstance where it cost us everything but the roots or even the full grown tree of those same things is present within us as a reminder that the margins aren’t just close…they are within.
The margins are within you. That should help us relate to those who we see who are in serious need of help because they are less “other” than we once thought they were as we begin to be more honest about what is inside our own hearts.