Living as an Unexpected Minority

By looking at my skin colour (white) and the country I live in (Canada), you might assume that I am part of the majority.  But I’m not.  I am a minority for a few reasons:

Reason #1 – I am a Canadian male who did not, and does not, play hockey.  Sorry.  If I started a support group for everyone like me, we could all fit in my living room.  At one time.

Reason #2 – I am believer in Jesus, that he is God and the saviour of the world, and that the Bible is true.  Check any Canadian social statistic you want to, and you’ll see that I am part of a very small minority.  So small, in fact, that I didn’t realize it until a radio host pointed it out to me when I was asked to be a “human book” so that people could talk to a real live believer in Jesus (apparently it is rare to spot us in the wild).

Reason #3 – Not only am I a committed follower of Jesus, I am actually a leader in the community of Jesus-followers.  Yikes, now I am in a really small group!  Not as small as non-hockey playing Canadian males, but still, its a small group.  😉

So what is it like to be a minority in Canada?  It means that …

  1. I will be misunderstood.  Constantly.  Oh, you’re a Christian?  That means you believe this and this, do this and this, and think this and this.  Really, I do?  Hmm … how about you look into the diversity among followers of Jesus?  How about you ask me what I believe?  Just an idea.  😉  Unfortunately, the media often fuels some inaccurate stereotypes in their rush to communicate as quickly as they are expected to, so it can be tough to find accurate information that isn’t either anecdotal or over-generalized.  Anyway … being a minority means being misunderstood.
  2. I will be invisible.  In cultural and political contexts, Jesus-followers are almost never invited to the table.  Many other minorities are asked to be involved in discussion and decisions, but seldom are Christians (refreshingly in Prince George, however, our church has been invited into a number of exciting contexts!).  Being a minority often means being forgotten.
  3. I will be assumed to be unintelligent.  I mean, seriously, who believes that religious stuff anymore?  Oh, I don’t know, how about … me?  And I’m pretty sure I’m not dumb (well, maybe on some days).  Regardless, though, you and I don’t have to watch very many shows to see how frequently Jesus-followers are portrayed as uniformed, naive, and unable to think critically.  Good thing no one is holding up a mirror.
  4. I will be accused.  It seems that, especially in Canada, it is socially acceptable to make grand sweeping statements about historical and contemporary cultures and conclude that Christians are somehow responsible for most of the problems that have been experienced.  History itself might have a more nuanced perspective, of course.  That being said, it is actually scary to think of where this current trajectory might end up.
  5. I will be lonely.  In the back of every minority’s head is the question of “will I fit in?”.  Do people think I’m weird?  Do people see me only through the label of Jesus-follower and forget that I have interests, skills, abilities, hobbies, etc just like everyone else?

But … the good news is that being a minority in Canada also means I qualify for undocumented government funding.  Ha, ha, just joking!  I wanted to see if you were paying attention.  😉  Okay, seriously, being a minority in Canada requires that I …

  1. Out myself as a Jesus-follower.  If I run and hide because I am misunderstood, etc, what does that say about who I am?  What does that say about what I believe?  I need to wear my Jesus-following-minority t-shirt and wear it proudly!
  2. Learn how to listen.  If I’m not careful, being a minority can cause me to be self-centered and think only about my “minorityness” (yep, that’s a new word!).  I need to remember to listen to others.  To really hear and understand their struggles, success, desires, etc.  I need to treat others as I would like them to treat me.
  3. Learn how to speak.  As I minority, I need to be able to talk about what I believe, value, etc, and why I live the way I do.  I need to learn how to talk with people, not at people.  I need to be able to speak intelligently and invitationally (another new word).
  4. Learn how to act.  What I do (and how I do it) and what I don’t do, speak volumes about me and about other Jesus-followers.  Again, I need to act the way I expect others to act.  I need to play nice, even when I am misunderstood, accused, etc.
  5. Love others.  What else did you expect a Jesus-follower to say?  Of course I said love others.  But lets make sure that we know what love is and use all of Jesus’ life and teachings as an example (not just pick and choose the stories that seem to validate our pre-existing personal agendas).  That being said, my default setting needs to be love.

Well, there you go.  A few philosophical ramblings from a relatively new minority.  Hopefully we can be a part of each other’s journeys in this weird and wonderful place called Canada!

Mark

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