I have a confession to make: I love Venn diagrams.
I know. My inner nerd is showing.
Invented by the 19th Century mathematician, John Venn, Venn diagrams are graphs which help us visualize how things are related. Usually a Venn diagram will have two or more circles representing different groups or ideas. The areas where those circles overlap show what those groups or ideas have in common.
Venn diagrams are tremendous teaching tools. They also can be quite amusing. If you have a chance this week, google: “funny Venn diagrams” and click on a few. Your inner nerd will thank me.
Here’s one of my favorites:
I was thinking of Venn diagrams this week as I was studying my Greek New Testament. (I know, my inner nerd is really showing.) But, in the Greek language, the preposition we usually translate as “in” has a unique connotation.
It literally means: “in the sphere of.”
One of the most common descriptions of believers in the New Testament is to say that he or she is “in Christ” – literally, “in the sphere of Christ.” The expressions: “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” and “in him” occur 164 times in Paul’s letters alone.
To believe in Jesus is to be in the sphere of Jesus. And God promises wonderful blessings to those who find themselves in his sphere.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Paul tells us (Romans 8:1). In Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). God has reconciled us to himself in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19). In Christ, we are saints (1 Corinthians 1:2) and temples of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). In Christ, we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7). In Christ, we are given the strength to face any and every challenge (Philippians 4:13).
Through faith in Jesus, we are encircled by his grace. In the sphere of Jesus, we are safe and saved. In the sphere of Jesus, we find heaven.
Honestly, though, if you look at the Venn diagram of my life, my circle isn’t always completely inside of Christ’s circle. I mean, there is plenty of space where our circles overlap, but in my sin and selfishness, I sometimes keep a part of me outside of the sphere of Jesus.
And that part tends to overlap with the sphere of the world.
As Christians, we struggle at times to give ourselves completely over to God. We don’t want people to think we are weird. We don’t want to be different. We still want to have some “fun.”
So we keep one foot in Christ and one foot in the world. We go to church and sing our hymns, but then cuss and tell dirty jokes with our buddies at work. We pray to God in times of trouble and find comfort in his forgiveness, but then use that forgiveness as an excuse to drink too much, sleep around or wallow in our anger.
As Christians, we love to talk about how God is a “part of our lives” or even “an important part of our lives.” But God doesn’t want to be only a part of our lives. He doesn’t want our circle merely overlapping his. To be a Christian mean to live inside Christ’s circle.
Through faith in Jesus, his grace now surrounds you and his forgiveness covers you. Out of love and thanks for all he has done for you and trusting in him, make every effort to live completely in his circle. Don’t worry what other people think of you. Don’t listen to the lies of the world.
In the sphere of Christ, you have everything.