Inside vs. Outside
My entry today is about location. When we think about location usually we think geographically. However, what I would like to hold up for consideration is more inclined toward a spiritual location. A spiritual location doesn’t have much to do with geographic awareness, but it does have to do with awareness. Since I don’t know where you are while you are reading this entry let’s use your physical location to perhaps open up what I am trying to convey. If you are inside a building or structure then obviously you are not outside. On the other hand if you are outside of a structure or building and you can see the sky directly above you while reading this entry then obviously you are not inside.
What if you had lived your entire life on the outside and had never experienced what it was like to be on the inside. There are numerous ways to think about this statement. Here are a couple. What if you were raised in a poor neighborhood and in a poor family as you observed others being able to participate in activities because they had the financial resources to do so. As a result, you might begin to realize what it feels like to be on the outside of such privilege.
Another way to consider this statement may include someone’s experience with medical conditions. What if you had an accident whereby you lost your eye sight. All of a sudden what you are experiencing after the accident has changed your life so drastically that your absence of sight has swept you into a visually dark place. No longer are you on the inside of physical sight but now you are on the outside with no physical sight. Here’s one more. You are seated in a classroom and the teacher is trying to explain a concept regarding paradox. Up to this point you just don’t seem to grasp the meaning of this concept. Then the teacher holds up the idea that perhaps your greatest strength is found in your weakness. All of a sudden you begin to think about how much you have learned from your mistakes. When the light of your understanding comes on, you are ushered from the outside of unawareness to the inside of understanding.
Once again, there may be lots of other examples to describe the difference between inside and outside but what I hold up now has to do with something Jesus said to some of his critics as they pressed him for answers about his kingdom. When the question was posed to Jesus as too when he was going to set up his kingdom on earth, I can’t help but think that there was some “tongue in cheek” sarcasm being applied to the question. His reply was simply, “…the kingdom is within you!” I don’t believe these religious fellows understood what Jesus implied when he told them where the kingdom was located.
According to John’s gospel, Jesus is Life and that Life is the Light of mankind. This Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it. What if Light has to do with understanding and the darkness has to do with unawareness. What if Light is what is on the inside and darkness is on the outside. When Jesus indicated that the kingdom of God was within us then it stands to reason that the kingdom is not outside of us. It is not something physical. When the word “hades” is used in scripture it has been translated “hell.” As I have indicated in other entries, “hades” is made up of two Greek words meaning not to see. Not to see could also suggest not to understand or be aware.
When the idea is raised in scripture of being cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, I’m not so sure it is speaking of a geographical location. I know lots of people who are weeping and gnashing their teeth due to their existence in the meaningless darkness of their lives as they seek to do in order to be. I hold up for your consideration the idea that the result of being absent from the kingdom within, meaning one has not spiritually gone inside ones self to discover this kingdom’s whereabouts, simply means being in the dark with no spiritual understanding. Being in the dark means one cannot comprehend spiritual Light. Not only can you not comprehend it, you can’t even perceive its presence within you.
The amazing thing about all of this is what each of us has within us. The Apostle Paul indicated that God placed a treasure within earthen vessels. We are the earthen vessels and the treasure within each of us is the kingdom of God. In other words, the kingdom of God has always been within you. If you haven’t discovered this kingdom within you yet, then I suggest asking God to show it to you. The day you enter into this kingdom you will never be the same again. This is what Jesus came to this planet to show us and he accomplished it in his resurrection.