I listened to Lecrae Moore’s biography, Unashamed. It was too easy to identify with the prologue of the book – that he felt like an outsider: someone that didn’t fit in with any particular group. He wasn’t part of the commercial hip-hop community, nor was he part of the Christian music industry. The feeling that you’re on the outside is something we feel acutely from time to time.
The sudden pangs of loneliness can be felt, as I have described in another post as a perception we feel towards others. But sometimes we genuinely feel on the outside by our tastes, personality, interests, etc. and that’s ok! But it had me wondering whether some of us find ourselves as outsiders for good reasons. The things that we crave – whether they be accolades, attention, fame – can be gravely idolatrous. Our unsteady hearts waver from the love of God and all that He grants us in Christ towards the praise of man. The fact that we cannot break into the groups or merits we feel we deserve may actually be a good form of restraint because if we actually acquired the things we crave, it would be to our ruin and the ruin of others.
We may see a romanticism in the ‘outsider-ness’ as seen in Camus, who presents his Meursault as one that reacts indifferently or ‘inappropriately’ to how he ought to: not crying or mourning over his mother’s funeral or using women without flinching – a true individual who operates according to his own autonomy. Or outsiders are ‘tortured artists’, although plenty of artists have been tortured by questions of being and mortality. It’s a human thing. Sure that is one way of looking at being an outsider, but I’m merely pondering something a little deeper and possibly more hopeful.
Much like problems associated with loneliness, it is part of our thought life that we need to rearrange, challenge, or correct. But it is worth considering whether being on the outside is part of anything that we have actually done whether intentionally or unintentionally. Christians are labeled as ‘pilgrims’ or ‘sojourners’ and this reality hits us only when we’re most occupied with Christ and in a collision with the mindset of the world, and where walking with the world hinders our communion with God. Therefore, simply living out the Christian life is being an outsider. Indeed, Christ was crucified and cast out of society. He was the supremely rejected one, who is in actuality the one whom we don’t want to be rejected!
There, at the margins, we find the ability to live before God as the one from whom we can ask: ‘Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings…’ (Psalm 17:8).