The Grammar Gospel: In, not of. But definitely In.

I’ve got a bone to pick, friends. And it’s one I’ve wanted to pick for a really, really long time. Like a chipping manicure in a lecture or a meeting that’s struggling to keep my attention, this one has been distracting me and begging me to pick, pick, pick it clean.

 And you know what? It’s all about semantics.

 So, question really quick.

 How many times have you heard the phrase (in some way or another), “We are called to be in the world and not of the world. Just like Jesus.” (If your answer is less than a crap ton, I’m legitimately jealous, but I pray you’ll find grace for my coveting.)

 The popular phrase / notion / ideology comes from John 14:13-19 – and let me start by saying that I believe it to be a true and righteous biblical command.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

(This excerpt of scripture is a prayer, words literally uttered by the mouth of our sweet Savior for us. How ridiculously humbling is it to think that hundreds and hundreds of years before you even made your debut on this green earth, JESUS HIMSELF was praying for you? I don’t know about you, but that kind of floors me.)

 The command to be in the world and not of the world is rooted in the fact that, because of our redemptive salvation through Christ Jesus, we are “not of the world any more than [He is] of the world.” Because of our redemptive salvation through Christ Jesus, our identity is not found in this world –in the bad or the good, in our failures or our successes, in our hurt or in our triumph – but in Him and Him alone. It is because of this same transitive righteousness that we are instructed not to be of the world, but simply in the world.

 We are in essence being called to consecrate ourselves – or to set ourselves apart from the world. We are called to be marked by His righteousness, yet wholly transformed by His grace.

 But sisters, we can’t stop there. We cannot stop at the separation.  There is too much at stake when we stop there.

 But as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

 Did you hear that? Did you get it?

Let me say it one more time.

 But as you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.”

 This is Jesus – our sweet and mighty Jesus – talking to the Creator of the Universe.  About us. And do you know what He says – to God?

 Hey Dad, how are you? You know how you sent me down into this place to shake it up? To be the perfect example of your perfect love? You know how you called me to build my life on the radical notion of unending grace and unlimited second chances? You know how you nudged me to reach the unreachable? To love the outcast? To dine with sinners and to love the least of these? Good news! As an FYI, I’ve asked these people to do the same. Things should be good down here for a while, so can I come back home now?

 I think we miss this sometimes. In our quest to be righteous and in our hope to be seen as set apart, I think we miss the command to be in the world. I think we forget that the command to be in the world is just as much a command as the command to not be of the world.

 We can’t miss the call to be in.

 Friends, we have to be in this world. We have to root ourselves here – if only temporarily – to effect the change we are called to evoke. Our lives must be the catalyst that points hearts to Jesus. The way we operate from a constant state of grace must be a game-changer each and every day. The awful, ugly and heartbreaking truth is that we make a mockery of the cross if we refuse to be in the world.

 We cannot isolate ourselves. We cannot mingle only with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have to go out into the world, into our campuses and into our communities and not just be like Him, but be His hands, His feet, His heart and His soul. 

 We can’t be of, no – but sisters, we can never miss the in.

 What does being in the world and not of the world look like for you? Do you think it’s a fine line between being in the world and not of the world? How can you distinguish between the two?

- Diana // @dianapalka