It was the first day of eighth grade. Looking at the new class schedule, I was at a loss. I knew neither the classroom locations nor what to expect of the teachers at all. After a few blunders of going into the wrong room and struggling to keep up with the classes, there came a bigger challenge: lunchtime. I got my lunch and realized that everyone naturally sat down with their circles; this was the moment I truly felt like an outcast. What intensifies this feeling was the fact that I spoke limited English with an accent: It was only a month ago that I came from Hong Kong to start a new life in California.
I believe that for most people, if not all, rejection and displacement are parts of life — rites of passage even. Now my story is relatively trivial compared to others’, especially Jesus’. The Son of God — who was there before time and made everything — became flesh in the world, yet the world did not know him (John 1:10). In Nazareth, where Jesus spent his childhood, the town hated him so much that they wanted to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:14). Another town turned Jesus away despite having witnessed him miraculously heal and cleanse a man of demons, for whom no one previously held out any hope (Luke 8:37). Finally, Jesus was left to be accused by many, abandoned by His closest disciples, crucified at Calvary next to criminals, and ultimately forsaken by His Father (Mark 15:34). Jesus understands exactly what it means to be an untouchable.
In his lifetime, Jesus also involved or associated himself with other untouchable and forgotten people. Jesus did not primarily concern himself with those who were well-established; instead, he prioritized caring for those who were marginalized and overlooked by society. Or to put it another way, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). Perhaps one of the reasons that Jesus chose to become a pariah during his time in the world is to show the value in loving those who are hard to love, which begs the question: who are these people around us today?
The answer to the question above may vary from Christian to Christian, but the general theme must to some extent include non-believers with little to no access to the Gospel. Jesus’ Great Commission commands believers to spread the good news to the ends of the earth, and indeed this is the only way to shine hope to outcasts. By God’s grace, my friend Lester reached out and invited me to have lunch with him in my second week of eighth grade. He showed me the ropes on what school is like and practiced English with me. His invitation really encouraged me and lifted my spirits for my future in a new country. If such simple acts and conversations could make a decent impact on a middle schooler, how much more would the Gospel do eternally to groups separated from Jesus — just as you and I once were. People farthest away from God are deemed the most precious, just as the one lost sheep being the prime prize that the shepherd wished to pursue in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 18:13).
When my imperative is to live like Jesus and to live with Jesus, I am convicted to first care for the most remote from Christ, identified as Frontier People Groups (FPG). I also look to become an outcast just as Jesus was, because I am in this world but not of this world (John 17:14), so that I know how to bring the true love and hope found in Christ to those yet to know Him. Indigitous Serve summer cohort’s collaboration with the Joshua Project is one of the ways that God is leading me to put theory into practice, though there remains much to finish. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). What truly stood out to me in this passage is the word “everyone”. To the best of our own talents, you and I share the same purpose in ministering to everyone in this world for God’s glory. I pray that the Lord would give you the heart to reconcile outcasts of the world with our Heavenly Father, so that you too will take action in reaching out and shine as the light of the world.