I would like to write for you this morning about the concept of being IN something. Like when you were a kid and you were IN trouble, only not that bad. No, this story is about more of a desire than it is of a place.
When I was in high school there was a song that played on the radio by Dobie Grey that went "I'm in with the in crowd. I go where the in crowd goes." Have you ever been in a crowd? Yeah, me too. But I don't think I have ever been IN with the IN crowd. Although I was a nerd and was not considered "in" in any way, I guess you could say I was IN with the nerd crowd. [I don't remember liking that song very much back then and now I'm upset with myself because that song is stuck IN my head. (sigh)]
The concept of being IN something. How exactly does someone get IN something? We can climb in, walk in, slide in, stop in, run in, we can even go in the out door. And actually, aren't we IN something wherever we are? For example, I am IN my house. I am IN Wisconsin. We are all IN the world and IN the universe. So what's the point of this IN story?
Back in the 60's people wanted to be IN. Everyone wore the latest fashions. They were considered "in." Everyone HAD to be IN. It was actually called that - "being in". "Those clothes are so IN." People talk about being IN fashion, IN control, IN charge. Shortly after I became a Christian I heard a new term - IN Christ. I used this verse in my last blog post but it applies here as well.
"17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17
I first heard of the concept of being "IN Christ" from Pastor Eric Ludy. He is the head of the Elerslie Mission Society in Windsor, Colorado. I have heard him ask many times from the pulpit, "What is your position?" and his students and congregation always reply enthusiastically, "In Christ!"
Pastor Eric tells two stories about this concept. The first is of a man who decided to take a vacation. He packed his bags, he bought a plane ticket, he went to the airport and waited for his flight. As his departure time drew near all passengers were told to get on-board. However our friend did not leave his seat. Soon the doors to the connecting link were closed and the plane backed away from the terminal. A short time later the man watched as the plane he was supposed to be on took off. The lady behind the counter saw all this happening and approached the man.
"Sir? Was that your flight that just took off?
"Yes, yes it was."
"Why didn't you get on-board?"
"I don't know. I had a ticket. I thought I was going to be flying to Hawaii today."
To that, the ticket-taker replied, "Well, at some point, sir, you have to get IN the plane."
The second story is of a pastor who offered a $20 bill to anyone who wanted it. All hands of his congregation shot into the air. The pastor selected Mr. Smith who sat in the front row and said, "Here is your $20 dollars. I will leave it for you right here on the pulpit."
After church was over the man went out to lunch. He sat at the counter and ordered the blue plate special. The waitress told the man, "That'll be $9.95." To which the man replied, "I have $20. It's over at the church."
"Yeah? So? I will still need $9.95 before you can eat."
The man went hungry that day because, although he had been given $20, he had not taken possession of it. He did not pick it up and physically carry it with him. In other words . . . he never got in the plane.
Our faith is a lot like that. Unless we take possession of it, unless we get in it, put it on like a piece of clothing and wear it, it's really rather useless. We can say we believe in Jesus but unless we actually live it our faith is meaningless.
Take a look around your church, your work place, your community. Do you see people actually living out their faith? Do they wear their faith well? Have they gotten IN the plane? Have they actually taken possession of their faith? Or do they simply say they are Christians and hope that will get them to their desired destination?
What does it mean to wear one's faith? Let Paul explain.
"10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." - Ephesians 6:10-18
Hmm. Look at all those action words. It sounds like Paul is telling the Ephesians to get dressed!! We too need to take up our faith. We need to take possession of it. We need to put it on and fasten our faith around ourselves so we can be fully-prepared to take on this world. Or would we rather walk out of the front door wearing nothing at all.
A man was about to get on a bus one morning when the bus driver stopped him before he got in and said, "Sir, you are not wearing any clothes. That's a problem if you want to ride this bus."
The man replied, "I have plenty of clothing but's all at home in my closet."
"That's nice, sir. But I am afraid you will have to go home and get IN your clothes."
Here is one more story for you today, about wearing our faith, putting it on in preparation for the coming of Jesus.
"And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” - Matthew 22:1-14
Let us be Christians who are known to be IN the faith by wearing it and living it each and every day. Remember that old song that goes, "They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know we are Christians by our love." Let us be known for being IN Christ by the lives we lead. Let there be no doubt about who we are and WHOSE we are.
They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love by Jars of Clay