adversity, depression, discrimination, displacement, dissenters, grief, hopelessness (despair), invisibility, marginalized believers, non-Christian world's clubs and associations, poverty, quitters, revolutionaries, roller-coaster ride, self-centered malecontented misfit Christians, sold out to Christ
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. ~ Isaiah 61:1-3, ESV
If we are being honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that there are marginalized believers in the 21st century institutional “church.” By marginalized, this blogger means that these believers have suffered adversity, depression, hopelessness, discrimination, displacement, grief, invisibility, and poverty solely because of their beliefs, ethnicity, gender, language, and/or social class.
Based on the above definition, this blogger believes that today’s marginalized believers are those Christians who no longer wish to conform to the institutional “church’s” limited vision of Christianity. Instead, they prefer to do what they know God says is “right,” even when that which God says is “right” is difficult to get the masses to believe in, accept, and apply because, by the institutional “church” and the world’s contemporary standards, these marginalized believers are doing that which is unpopular!
Nevertheless, if today’s institutional “church” ever hopes to obtain a deeper communion or koinonia, like the Holy Bible’s first-century believers in the book of Acts had, then every institutional “church” believer must learn from these first-century believers, for these first believers were the most marginalized believers in their day. Widely recorded is the well-documented fact that validates this historical truth: The first century’s marginalized believers faced constant persecution from their political and religious authorities. Yet, despite everything they faced, daily they remained committed to spreading the Gospel of Christ Jesus; daily they remained committed to sharing common meals; daily they remained committed to sustaining one another through the spoken Word of God, through their daily fellowship, and through the use of their monetary and spiritual gifts; and daily they remained committed to emulating their teacher, Christ Jesus, by reaching out to the most marginalized believers in their society.
Then too, telling others about the life of Christ Jesus also was the first-century believers’ central focus. Like the spoken Word of God, their oral narratives about the life of Christ Jesus they either witnessed or heard about played a principal part in sustaining (maintaining, supporting, nourishing) the first century’s marginalized believers. More important, it was the oral narratives about Christ Jesus that reminded the first century’s marginalized believers that, like them, Christ Jesus also was marginalized by the political and religious leaders of His time. For sure, Jesus the Christ’s life and teaching not only were at the margins but also for the benefit of the marginalized people in His day. In fact, the marginalized people in the Lord’s time were considered by the Lord to be those most worthy of receiving His love, attention, gift of salvation, and the power, authority and gifts of the Holy Spirit (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3; Isaiah 58:6-9; Matthew 25:34-36; Luke 4:18-19).
There can be no doubt that God’s kingdom, which the Lord preached and taught, was not only about the life of the Holy Spirit inside of every born again and saved (justified) believer but also about Christ Jesus’ ekklesia, or His faith community—those so-called marginalized believers who actually were His true believers who were experiencing and communicating the saving intention of God. That is why an ekklesia is not a brick and mortar building, but rather an ekklesia is the Lord’s called out human community that is committed to and enthusiastic about living out (faithfully obeying) God’s kingdom values.
However, today, when people speak about the marginalized believers who have left the institutional “church,” instead of speaking favorably about them, the left-behind churchgoers often use negative terminology. These marginalized believers, thus, often are described as self-centered, malcontented, misfit Christians who vote with their feet; moreover, they are the unchurched believers who are nothing more than quitters and nonconformist revolutionaries.
Contrary to these aforesaid negative popular opinions about marginalized believers, the modern day marginalized believers are really those Christians who are so sold out to Christ Jesus that they are lifting Him up against every ideology and belief system that is contrary to God’s Divine Truth and contrary to God’s saving Grace and Faith. In other words, these marginalized believers have been saying, and are continuing to say, that they want to be the spiritual children God has created them to be, and that they want to have the biblically described intimate relationship with God that produces the mature spiritual knowledge of God. In view of that, it is clear that these marginalized believers also want all of the supernatural power, authority, and spiritual gifts, which God has made available to the entire Body of Christ so that the Lord’s believers can live the same kind of life Christ Jesus lived.
What is more, it was while today’s marginalized believers were in the institutional “church” and expressing their new mindset and new attitude about their God-given purpose that the traditional pastors, ministry leaders, and the majority of their congregations have denied these marginalized believers their right to be treated as equal brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Eventually, marginalized believers’ frustration with the “church” as usual mentality is no doubt what caused their mass exodus. In the wake of their leaving, the traditional pastors, ministry leaders, and the majority of their congregations have resorted to labeling these marginalized believers as unchurched quitters and revolutionaries, or members of an “alternative faith community.”
How frustrating it is to see so many of modern-day believers forgetting that the Scriptures often show God preferring the marginalized (cf. Isaiah 61:1-3; Isaiah 58:6-9; Matthew 25:34-36; Luke 4:18-19). For sure, the sufferings and afflictions of the 21st century’s marginalized believers just prove that these children of God only are being treated the same way God is so often treated in this world.
Case in point, from 1994-2012, this blogger regularly has been reminded of how marginalized she has become, all because she has been faithfully obedient to the preacher and teacher callings God has appointed and ordained her to fulfill. More important, she has been faithfully obedient in spite of the fact that there still are spiritual leaders and their “church” congregations that only respect male authority, and even then the respect goes only to their own male preachers and teachers or the institutional “church’s” highly celebrated male preachers and teachers! Similarly, God often is marginalized when human beings only turn to Him when they need Him to meet their deepest needs. Otherwise, He is feminized, dethroned, and/or pushed out of His children’s lives so that they can idolize themselves, other people, and/or things.
The point here is that the real truth about marginalized believers or so-called unchurched quitters and/or revolutionaries is that these marginalized believers had come to know and understand that the 21st century’s institutional “church” unfortunately was missing the necessary faithful obedience to God’s Divine plan for His children’s lives. This missing essential and far-reaching building block of faithful obedience was that which had led to the roller-coaster ride that today’s marginalized believers, while in the institutional “church,” had become sick of riding. They indeed were sick of the rise and fall of several “churches,” the rise and fall of several “Christian” movements, and the rise and fall of several congregational roles and patterns of behavior, of which the institutional “church’s” current congregational roles and patterns of behaviors have been very similar to today’s non-Christian world’s various kinds of clubs and associations’ roles and patterns of behaviors that are demonstrated by their affluent, sophisticated, well-educated, and well-dressed members!
The bottom line is that, in the modern day version of the institutional “church,” what might seem like marginalized believers is really those totally sold out to Christ Jesus believers who not only have believed and received God’s promised profound supernatural power, authority, and spiritual gifts, but also they are believers who have sought to restore what has been missing from their “church” experience. Their new mindset and new attitude is why the Lord, once again, is moving His true followers out of the Temple (institutional “church”) and back into the highways and hedges. Put differently, Christ Jesus via God’s Holy Spirit is moving these once considered to be marginalized believers back to their God intended missional spirituality (being transformed from the inside out) and missional living (living a 24/7 missionary lifestyle in order to engage the unsaved world with the Gospel message).
Thus, these once referred to as marginalized believers’ “new normal” (or that which has been labeled as subversive spirituality, or the missional spirituality and missional living of the emergent “church,” or an “alternative faith community”) is really the “old Way” that first-century believers followed. Today’s marginalized believers, therefore, have returned to the ekklesia, and an ekklesia consists of believers (people) who are not members of a brick and mortar “church,” but rather they are believers who live in Spirit and in Truth, sharing a common Leader—Christ Jesus!
That’s why marginalized believers’ goal is not escapism (is not about creating a Christian utopia), but rather their goal, which also is Christ Jesus’ goal, is to show institutional “church” believers how to accept, receive, and submit to the kind of kingdom living God intended for His children to live. In other words, their goal is to encourage holy dissatisfaction that God, no doubt, divinely has planned for the purpose of taking His true believers from a member-centered club spirituality to a Holy Spirit-centered sanctified spirituality, which focuses on living a genuine Christian lifestyle that produces the kind of ministry works (fruits/good deeds) that supports the biblical vision of missional spirituality (the kingdom of God culture)!
Finally, the institutional “church” needs to embrace (accept, support) the reasons why its so-called marginalized believers are leaving their local churches, instead of allowing the left-behind churchgoers to demonize these unchurched believers by calling them haters of Christians and Christianity, false believers who think they are better and more righteous than the left-behind churchgoers, and/or irresponsible quitters and dissenting revolutionaries. The contemporary marginalized believers are nothing like that at all. Once again, they are just sold out to Christ Jesus believers who are committed to doing what God says is “right,” even when that which God says is “right” is difficult to get the masses to believe in, accept, and apply.
Furthermore, the institutional “church” needs to recognize its so-called marginalized believers’ hunger for a genuine experience with God, their hunger for the spiritual knowledge of God, and their hunger for an authentic connection with a faithfully obedient community of believers. For sure, the only way that the current institutional “church” will be able to survive is if it prepares itself for its much needed transformation, which is making the change from the very unhealthy and powerless organized traditional “church” of today to the healthier and more powerful ekklesia that experiences a deeper communion or koinonia, as demonstrated by the first-century ekklesia in the Holy Bible’s book of Acts!