a different sort of grammar lesson

christplaysFrom Eugene H. Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places:

…the Christian life is not about us; it is about God. Christian spirituality is not a life-project for becoming a better person, it is not about developing a so-called “deeper life.” We are in on it, to be sure. But we are not the subject. Nor are we the action. We get included by means of a few prepositions: God with us (Matt. 1:23), Christ in me (Gal. 2:20), God for us (Rom. 8:31), With…in…for…: powerful, connecting, relation-forming words, but none of them making us either subject or predicate. We are the tag-end of a prepositional phrase.

The great weakness of North American spirituality is that it is all about us: fulfilling our potential, getting in on the blessings of God, expanding our influence, finding our gifts, getting a handle on principles by which we can get an edge over the competition. And the more there is of us, the less there is of God.

It is true that sooner or later in this life we are invited or commanded to do something. But in that doing we never become the subject of the Christian life, nor do we perform the action of the Christian life. What we are invited or commanded into is what I want to call prepositional-participation. The prepositions that join us to God and his action in us and in the world — the with, the in, the for — are very important, but they are essentially a matter of the ways and means of being in on, of participating in, what God is doing.

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