The Invisible Fringes – Living On The Edge Of Society

While RV camping across the southwest US with my wife, I observed something in both the Arkansas Ozarks, and in Jerome, Arizona that caught my attention. In both places I noted the extreme poverty of partially falling down homes perched high on mountain cliffs with multimillion-dollar views. Some homes looked uninhabitable, but people were living in them. The views from these homes were priceless; the homes looked worthless. I discovered a spiritual message in this stark contrast. I will share it with you in today’s message.

These homes on the fringe of the cliff were in dire need of repair. The stunning views from these homes were awe inspiring, as if looking at God in His creation. So, despite their miserable living condition, I suspect those who lived in these houses felt close to God. People on the fringe of society often do.

In the vast tapestry of society, there exist individuals and groups who reside on the periphery, often referred to as the “fringes” or in the case of these homes, on the edge. These individuals, due to various circumstances such as poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, or simply being different, often find themselves overlooked and uncared for by the mainstream. The homes we observed called out to me to write something that would shed light on this societal phenomenon of living on the fringe.

“Othering” is a term used to describe a phenomenon in which some individuals or groups are defined and labeled as not fitting in within the norms of a social group. It involves viewing or treating a person or group of people as intrinsically different from, and alien, to oneself. On an individual level, othering plays a role in the formation of prejudices against people and groups. On a larger scale, it can also play a role in the dehumanization of entire groups of people. Othering can be thought of as an antonym of belonging. Where belonging implies acceptance and inclusion of all people, othering suggests intolerance and exclusion.

Even for Christians, it is far too easy to overlook those on the fringes. Our oversight is not always intentional. Society is structured in such a way that the minority can easily go unnoticed. The busyness of daily life, coupled with the human tendency to stick to familiarity, often makes it easy for us to overlook those who do not fit into our immediate circles.

The reality is that we are often unaware of the struggles and challenges faced by “others” living on the fringes. This lack of exposure to their circumstances can lead to apathy, and in some cases, fear or disdain. This lack of empathy and understanding can become a barrier that prevents us from reaching out and offering support.

Too often media shapes our perceptions. Those living on the fringes can be either romanticized or demonized in our popular culture, creating misconceptions and stereotypes. These skewed portrayals can further prevent us from reaching out to them.

We must always remember that every individual, regardless of their circumstances, contributes to the diversity and richness of our society. Like those homes we observed, those living on the fringes have a unique perspective and their experiences can offer valuable insights. By choosing to ignore them, we are not only doing them a disservice but also missing out on an opportunity to bring Christ to someone in need.

We must challenge ourselves to look beyond our comfort zones. Caring for those on the fringes of society is deeply rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself reached out to those who were marginalized or ostracized in society. He interacted with tax collectors, lepers, and others who were often ignored or shunned by mainstream society. He set an example for His followers to do the same.

Our Christian faith emphasizes the virtues of love, compassion, and kindness. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, and this includes those who are often overlooked or marginalized.

As Christians, we are called to promote social justice. We must always stand up for the rights of the poor, the oppressed, and those who are often forgotten by society. By acknowledging and helping those on the fringes, we can work towards creating a more just and equitable society.

Every human being is after all created in the image of God, therefore, deserving of respect and dignity. Recognizing those on the fringes of society reaffirms their inherent worth and dignity.

Like most aspects of our Christian faith, we gain more than we give when we help others. Engaging with those on the fringes not only helps them but it can also lead to a deepening of our faith. It allows us to live more like Christ.

Hebrews 13:2 states, “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” Proverbs 14:31 saysThose who oppress the poor revile their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor him.”

Christianity has consistently emphasized the importance of reaching out to the marginalized and vulnerable in society. Indeed, the Church teaches us that we have a special obligation to care for the poor, the outcasts, and those living on the fringes of society.

We must work to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, or naked. We must see the Lord even in those who have lost their faith or turned away from the practice of their faith, and yes, even those who profess to be atheists.  We can never overlook those who are marginalized.

The Bible tells us, “the Lord hears the cry of the poor,” do we? There is a tendency as Christians to become cliquish. If all we do is hang out with other Christians, we are failing in our God given responsibilities. To follow Christ, we must “get our hands dirty.”  We must touch the modern-day lepers.

Reaching out to the marginalized is not just a task for a few, but the mission of the Church as a whole. We must try to see Christ in the faces of the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned, and the forgotten.

Ministering to certain outcast groups can feel like walking a high wire over the Grand Canyon. Balance is the key. Leaning too far to the right or left could have dangerous consequences. Sometimes our political or nationalistic viewpoints can cloud our Christian responsibilities. Ministering to the outcast while simultaneously upholding the truth of the Bible and the teachings of the Church can be a challenge. Loving and caring for someone is not the same as condoning their circumstances, life choices, or specific situations.

In addition to the poor,  these marginalized groups include those with self-inflicted issues such as drug, alcohol, gambling, or porn addiction. It includes those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. And, it also include those who are illegal aliens. Many are on the fringe.

We might not agree with what these people are doing or have done, but nonetheless they are children of God. They have the same right to fundamental dignity and worth of every human person.

We do not have to condone their behavior, but we do have to love them and treat them with dignity and respect. We can stand for the truth without beating them over the head with it, thereby driving them even further into the shadows.

In conclusion, we must challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone. We must ask ourselves this question: When was the last time I interacted with someone of the fringe of society? If we have not done this, today is an ideal day to start. Keep in mind, like those falling down houses on the edge of the cliff, those on the fringe of society may have a better view of God than we do.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the rich diversity of humankind. Help me to see Jesus in the face of all people. Allow your Holy Spirit to inspire me to reach out to those who are different from me. Help me to follow in Your Son’s footsteps by ministering to those most in need. Amen!


As always, I love to hear from you. You can email me by clicking here.

Please take a moment to share your thoughts about today’s message below.

Brian Pusateri
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  1. Susan Engelke on May 29, 2024 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Brian, great message. I spent many visits to the Ozarks, know exactly what your message reminds us of others who see beauty and God the same we do, but we who have not had that type of struggle tend to take advantage of what is around us. My grandparent & parents retired to the Ozarks because of the beauty peacefulness and simple life. It certainly is a beautiful part of God’s creation. Your message was a personal reminder to me what beauty surrounds us and we need to thank God for such creation and to appreciate what we have and share it. Peace be with you.

    • Brian Pusateri on May 29, 2024 at 5:39 pm


      Thanks for sharing your unique perspective.


  2. Joseph B Galloway on May 29, 2024 at 9:20 am

    Phil Collins’s song Another Day in Paradise is a good message for this post. It convicts me…

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