"The Kingdom of God is an Inside-Out Kingdom"
By Dr. Bruce Cook
The Kingdom of God is an inside-out Kingdom in contrast to the nature and structure
of most worldly systems and governments. Luke 17:21 (NKJV) says, "...the Kingdom of God is within you." John 7:37-38 (NIV) says, "On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, 'Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and
drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.'"
Inside-Out Versus Outside-In
Inside out involves processes, systems and/or
outcomes which are organic and fruitful, and have divine origin and order. Organic here is defined as "developing in a manner analogous to the natural growth and evolution characteristic of living organisms; arising as a natural outgrowth". In contrast, outside
in involves processes, systems and/or outcomes which are artificial and forced, controlled, or manipulated and have human origin and order.
"In our work relationships, God wants right attitudes. He cares about behaviors, and right behavior
is important, but right attitude is far more important in God's eyes."
Romans 12:2 (MSG) says, "Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed
from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
There is a clear progression of growth from the inside out, from children to sons to fathers. It requires managing an "inside life". The two key influencers are our heavenly Father, and the inward or the outward focus from the world systems and structures.
What we choose to love, and how well we love, will determine the outcomes and what flows from us individually and corporately (see 1 John 2:12-17).
Babies are formed on the inside, in the womb, and birth is from the inside out. This is
true not only in humans, but in all species. This is God's design for reproduction and for repopulating the earth and all species. The world's way of life is from the outside in. Organization charts and board committees are outside in efforts to try to bring
structure, order and process to entities of various types. Marketing and sales and advertising, billboards, social media, television and radio, newspaper and magazines—these are outside-in methods and media, respectively, involving processes, networks
and programs to get your attention and persuade you to buy something or take some specific action. Effective marketing is realized when core values and needs on the inside are tapped into.
Education processes are from the outside in, from
academic institutions, professional societies and/or regulatory agencies. These are competent and quality standards and guidelines or requirements to ensure professionalism, but are not the mission or assignment of the practitioner, nor the service provided
by them. The social currency of these credentials is also important, and is not always indicative of learned core values that are often realized in authentic cultures.
Influencing Cultures from the Inside-Out
For organizations, the corporate culture is the inside out and reflects the core values of senior leadership and shareholders or stakeholders, depending on organizational type and mission. Mars Inc., for example, a privately-held, multi-national, multi-billion-dollar
corporation, has five core values: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom. Culture helps define, undergird, frame and drive corporate identity, mission, goals, policies and behaviors. Culture influences how employees, clients or customers,
and other constituents are variously treated, trained, and compensated or rewarded. Essentially, culture empowers the life of the organization, especially if it has its roots in Kingdom principles.
We must be born again of water
(baptism) and the Holy Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God (see John 3:1-6 NIV). Many vegetables grow on the outside of the earth, above ground, but several varieties grow on the inside, below the surface, like potatoes, carrots, radishes, garlic, onions, etc.
When we plant a seed and it dies, it germinates and multiplies. John 12:24 (AMP) says, "I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces
much grain and yields a harvest." Germination produces life from the inside out.
Matters of the Heart - from the Inside-Out
Soil is not only physical dirt, but spiritually we also put seed in people's
ears, in their hearts, and in the atmosphere. In the same way that nature works, humans reproduce and demonstrate what is on the inside of them, in their hearts. Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) says, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your
life." Other translations express that from the heart "...everything you do flows from it" (NIV) and "...out of it spring the issues of life" (NKJV).
The heart expresses itself through both words and actions. Matthew 15:18-20 says, "But
the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed
hands does not defile him." (Similarly, see Matthew 12:34 NLT and Luke 6:45 NIV.)
The heart also expresses itself through attitudes. Both Matthew 22:39 and Mark 12:31 tell us to love our neighbors as ourselves. That's not natural. You
have to change on the inside to be able to do that. We are also told in Scripture to love our enemies and to pray for them, and for those who despitefully use us. Similarly, for those who are married, Ephesians 5:22-33 discusses husband-wife relationships.
Husbands are commanded to love their wives as their own bodies, and as Christ loves the Church. Wives are commanded to respect their husbands and to submit to them in everything. This all requires change at the heart level to implement and execute on a daily
Honor from the Inside-Out
"What we choose to love, and how well we love, will determine the outcomes and what flows from us individually and corporately."
We are further
commanded to honor our father and mother, and to obey them in the Lord. Fathers are told not to exasperate their children, but instead, to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (see Ephesians 6:1-4). Masters and servants are also instructed
to honor one another, and to treat each other fairly and respect one another as unto the Lord. Employees are likewise exhorted and instructed to behave in similar fashion (see Ephesians 6:5-9, 1 Peter 2:18-21, Colossians 3:23-24).
work relationships, God wants right attitudes. He cares about behaviors, and right behavior is important, but right attitude is far more important in God's eyes. This is only possible by living from the inside out.
The Message translation
of Colossians 3:22-25 states, "Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come
into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work."
Giving from the
Christ-like attitudes also result in forgiveness, mercy, grace and love being a frequent and ongoing experience – a "new norm" – in the lives of Christians. Sanctification and maturity are ongoing processes
for disciples of Christ, rather than destinations or events. These all take place and occur from the inside out, in the heart. Salvation, worship and prayer are also from the inside out, as are the holy sacraments – baptism and communion. John 4:23-24
(NIV) says, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Matthew 6:5-6 adds, "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when
you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Even our giving is to be in secret – from the "inside out"
– unlike the giving of the world. Jesus taught that our giving should be done in secret. "But when you give to someone in need, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything,
will reward you" (Matthew 6:3-4 NLT).
Correction from the Inside-Out
Moreover, when godly rebuke, admonition or correction needs to be given to another brother or sister in Christ, it should
also be done from the inside out, by an individual or small group in a strong enough relationship with the offending party to be trusted, respected, and heard. The party charged to "speak the truth in love" (see Ephesians 4:15) to the offending party must
do so from a posture of prayer, humility, love and gentleness, and only after first examining their own motives to make sure their heart is pure and motives clean with the goal of love, restoration and/or reconciliation (see Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1-2).
1 Timothy 1:5 says in this regard, "The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
Finally, even in matters where a disagreement or dispute between Believers has occurred, we
are instructed to resolve that from the inside out in the Church or Christian community if at all possible, rather than accessing and engaging the world's courts, which are only intended to be used by Believers as a last resort if internal efforts fail (see
1 Corinthians 6:1-7). There are several reputable Christian mediation and arbitration services available. And of course, none of us can control other people's behavior.
In summary and closing, the Kingdom of God is an inside out Kingdom.
We are changed from glory to glory, and as our minds and hearts are renewed and transformed, we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Our lives become a sweet-smelling incense unto God. "For we are to God the pleasing aroma of
Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV). Our fragrance and aroma both attracts and repels those around us—some to life, and some to death.
Bruce Cook, Ph.D.
Kingdom Congressional International Alliance (KCIA)
528 Ellsworth St. SW
Albany, OR 97321