Some of the best books we read are those which, having already been read by us or by someone else, contain a few scribbled notes or words or comments in the margins of the pages. You pull those books off the bookshelf, fan through the pages, and eavesdrop on a conversation between the author and the reader, between the one who lives inside the margins and the one who lives outside of them. You can generally tell whether the reader agreed with the author by the kind of notes he or she leaves in the margins – the affirmations, protests, questions, and exclamations. These are the simple treasures of every book, and they are the sure signs that an encounter has taken place between the reader and the author.
Some of the best stories in the gospels are those in which Jesus journeys to the margins of society and religion and blurs the lines between the insiders and the outsiders, between the righteous and the unrighteous, between saints and sinners. He draws from the margins unrighteous people like Matthew, the despised tax collector – “come and follow,” he tells him. He draws from the margins the unclean, outcast woman, and calls her “daughter of God.” He draws a small child from her deathbed – from the margins of the living – and sends her back out into the neighborhood streets with rollerblades and pigtails. There is no boundary he cannot cross, no margin he will not enter, is no person he will not save. Jesus came to take what was lost in the margins and turn it into treasure in the Kingdom of God.
It astounded the insiders and so-called saints of his day. Jesus was turning the kingdom of this world inside-out. Those who were outsiders were drawn in; those who were insiders suddenly found themselves on the margins; and going back and forth between the two was Jesus, whose mercy just kept spilling out over the edges, blurring the margins, until there were no longer distinctions between the insiders and the outsiders, but those who were made well by faith.
If you desire to live a more hospitable life, it will require you to spend some time in the margins of this world — crossing boundaries, moving into places you are generally unlikely to go, encountering new friends you likely would never have known.
Photo Credit: D-Koupf