“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” ~Matthew 15:16-20
In a world cursed by an obsession with survival, this paradigm will have natural assumptions. One of the most logical assumptions from this perspective is the concept of “survival of the fittest.” This concept was not created out of a science of naturalism. Darwin put words to the dominate thought imprinted upon the human psyche. This evolving idea burns within human hearts ever since the curse of imminent death was given to our great grandparents in the garden.
If the fittest survive, then where one finds themselves in the pecking order is a pressing concern. Yet one common denominator these groups have is that ones place in the pecking order “success” is determined by external factors. How one moves up the pecking order can be diverse and sophisticated or simple and crude, and can depend on culture, geographic need or new trends in an ever evolving society. This ladder climbing can result from sheer force, the guile of manipulation, the fear of witchcraft, political cunning, the weapons at ones command, or the possessions one owns. Every culture defines what the top of the pecking order looks like. This is the definition of success in that culture-external prominence. This external prominence, or failure, becomes the label placed upon members of that culture, and when this label is conferred and accepted, it becomes ones identity. Therefore the world’s view of identity and success is rooted in external realities.
Ones resources at hand determine their place in the pecking order. Their location within the pecking order determines the label conferred on them, and if this label is accepted it becomes ones identity. When this worldview is unchallenged within our psyche, then it is natural to come to the same conclusions that modern culture has about success. You are successful if you; drive a nice car, live in a big house, have good looking men or women by ones side, having lots of money in the bank. If you have these things, then you are thriving not surviving. You are a success! The more success you have, then the higher you sit on the totem pole.
The prevalence of such a view still does not protect it from John the Baptist and Jesus’ calls of repentance. This call to live within another kingdom. A call to live in a Crazy Kingdom. This mind spinning, psyche uprooting repentance calls humanity from the “survival of the fittest” to true life. Our identity and our success do not come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out.
In the passage listed at the beginning of this chapter Jesus is saying the identity of “sinner” does not come from consumed food. What comes from the outside does not determine ones identity or limit ones personal power. The label of “sinner” and the behavior of sin comes from the inside out. The message of the gospel is that Jesus provides power to change our internal state, and that new internal state creates a new reality for us on the outside. When one accepts the gospel they are taking upon themselves a new identity and a new heart. This changes ones reality.
In light of this, the external indicators that determine ones place in cultures pecking order does not make one successful. Much of the context of scripture deals with this reality within the context of dealing with sin. Nevertheless, this Kingdom principle still holds true across the spectrum of ideas and context, but the application is much larger.
The larger application is your internal reality determines your external reality not vice versa. One must experience it internally before they can experience it externally. The wisdom of Proverbs states, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The kingdom does not come from the outside in. The kingdom erupts from the inside out. The atmosphere within you creates the atmosphere around you. You will prosper as your soul prospers. In a free society your internal state will create an external context that will recreate your internal state. The applications are huge. If you are stressed on the inside, you will create circumstances that will create more stress for you. The circumstances do not create stress. They just reveal stress in our heart. When trying circumstances come, they will be dealt with orderly thus recreating the internal state of peace or they will be amplified into greater stress creating a mirror image of your internal state. The same is true for fear. If you are fearful, you will create circumstances that reinforce fear in your life. One of two reactions will occur when truly fearful circumstance arise, you will start defusing the fear from these circumstances or you will start amplifying the fear. The same with lust, greed, pride, so on and so forth.
You will become who you see yourself as. If you see yourself as a person who has little value, then you create circumstances that reinforce that belief. An example is if a lady sees herself as cheep and dispensable, then she will never be able to say, “no” to “Mr. Wrong.” She will never have enough will power to overcome her identity because it is impossible for her to act outside of her identity. Mr. Wrong reinforces the belief she has little value. She must hear Jesus say, “You’re valuable…You’re precious…You’re significant…You’re important… You’re so important that I died for you.” When she believes this her internal identity changes and her external reality can change, and she can then say, “no” to Mr. Wrong and then in converse say, “yes” to Mr. Right. Her identity and her internal reality is everything. Self-control has little relevance to the issue. So when she believes this, and makes the next step integrating the teaching of Jesus into her identity, then it becomes easy to say “no” to Mr. “looser” Wrong. Why? He does not confirm the value of her significance.
This is a two edged sword that works for good as well as the bad. If you have an excellent state internally, then you will create a context that reinforces excellence in your life. A life that now produces excellent products, services and results. If you see yourself as successful internally, then you will create a context that lends itself toward success. If we see ourselves as pure, then we will start to live a morally pure life. This is why the Bible calls us saints before we act like saints. If you can buy into that identity, then it will change your behavior. Our inner life becomes our reality.
This is true no matter what mistakes you have made, abuse that has been unjustly heaped upon you, a ridiculously long history of failure, or location in the pecking order of your society. To live it on the outside, you must live it on the inside. This is how the Crazy Kingdom works.
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