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Life as an outsider

We have outside cats and inside dogs. We love the dogs more. We used to have an outside dog named Abby. Life as an outsider was harsh. The winters were cold. Inside, dogs were getting fed and sitting on laps. The outsider, Abby, had to fight the elements.   Most of my life I’ve been an ou…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
We have outside cats and inside dogs. We love the dogs more. We used to have an outside dog named Abby. Life as an outsider was harsh. The winters were cold. Inside, dogs were getting fed and sitting on laps. The outsider, Abby, had to fight the elements.
 
Most of my life I’ve been an outsider. Not that I feel rejection because of my outsider status. I’m an iconoclast by nature – I don’t buy into the status quo. I’m probably not going to join your club. And if you don’t invite me to your party, I’m probably not going to be offended.
 
The luxury I enjoy as an outsider is that I rarely struggle with people-pleasing. I don’t get depressed because I’m not a part of the “in group.”
 
The bummer of being an outsider is that, like any human being, I still have an inward need to belong to something. Not belonging is not an option. I care about what my friends and family think about me. In fact, I want to dive very deep with them and have nothing artificial in our relationship.
 
Consider what we know about outsiders:
  • They look and act different than the group.
  • Depending on how exclusive the group may be, they may be picked on by the group.
  • Groups that prize diversity need outsiders.
  • Groups that want to grow need outsiders.
  • Jesus was an outsider.
  • We are born as outsiders from the kingdom of God.
A lot of people feel like outsiders at work and too many at church. Many churches try to fix this by inserting a “shake-the-strangers-hand” time in their service. This is my least favorite time of most church services – I smile awkwardly at the people who smile at me but don’t take the time to learn my name or greet me when I enter the service. It’s a time when I especially am reminded of my outsider status. It feels phony and I don’t do phony.
 
The irony about Jesus is that he came as an outsider to make us insiders. Everyone wants to belong to the kingdom of God, but we’re born as captives of a dark kingdom. Somebody had to crash the gates and set us free. When Jesus did that, it was incredibly heroic.
 
Where do you belong? Do you mostly feel like an outsider or an insider? What would it take to be an insider?

Comments (6)

  • Seth my “outside” brother…This really helped me understand that fundamentally I am wired to be an “outsider” but lived much of my life as a “schmoozing insider”. Notwithstanding the pains involved laced with some sadness I’m glad to find people like Julian of Norwich and Saint John of the Cross my current heros.

    Love you…

  • And hence the problem with so many churches, they are full of insiders.

    Have never been a groupie or part of the “in crowd” either; and have always been pleased to have not been so.

    Walking with the Lord is certainly not on the inside in the USA these days, nor was it on the inside during His days here…….

  • I have been in churches where people reach out to you and invest in developing a genuine relationship with you without any agenda other than wanting to know you and be in relationship with you. But I have also been in other churches where people “front” wanting to know you in an attempt to get you to join a ministry, but quickly disappear if you haven’t taken the bait, for lack of a better word, without ever really getting to know you at all. I really struggle with the latter example, but God is teaching me through these experiences. Thank you for the reminder that Jesus, too, was at times treated as an outsider and more than that, although he cared for all, he really only connected at a deep level with a select few while here on earth. Perhaps in time I will find a group of people who will embrace my God given uniqueness (which is just another way of saying I’m weird). 🙂

    P.s. Sorry for not capitalizing the H’s… Non-conformity is the nature of the beast.

  • Jesus was the ultimate outsider.
    Which makes me question…
    “How can any true man or woman of God be an insider?”

  • Count me in, I mean out! Thanks again hermano for the words of wisdom. Your words hit a strong chord in my heart, especially being back in GA and feeling more like a Mexican than a Georgia. Thanks!

    Just got back again from Mexico and wow! God is at work in the lives of a church in Matamoros. Amazing God we serve. Kind of ironic thinking about this, but they recently got forced out of their facility by a certain group of bad guys, and they meet ‘out’side now in a church member’s yard. But they are so ‘in’ to Jesus, they don’t know how badly they’ve been treated. They just have joy and peace. Amazing God, amazing love.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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