This weekend, as we reflect on the Gospel of Luke, mealsprovide a central setting and theme for Jesus’ unique mission. There are more references to eating, banquetsand being attablein Luke than in any other gospel. The language of food, in general, serves as a sign of life, celebration and fellowship. Jesus reminds us that real discipleship is about living from the inside out, not the outside in.This means that we must be aware of what is going on inside ourselves, for we will surely project that onto the world. Jesus taught that our inner lives determine the direction of our outer lives, the quality of our relationships, the choices we make, the priorities we establish, and the actions we take.
Living from the outside inwas commonplace in the Greco-Roman society in which Jesus lived. Jesus challenged the cast systemembedded in this first-century culture. This system taught that it was appropriate to only invite friends, family and rich neighbors in or above one’s social class, but never below. The belief was that reciprocal requests would ensue. Jesus calls into question this type of cast system, imagining instead hosts who choose to associate with people who are “poor, crippled, lame and blind” as their new network. Living from the outside in occurs today whenever the outside world dictates what happens on our inside. This can take many forms: having your entire day ruined any time something inconvenient or unfavorable happens to you; feeling bored or totally lost unless you’re stimulated or entertained at all times; having your emotions completely dictated by your relationships; and lacking any sense of who you are or what you want. No matter how it shows up, outside in living isn’t the only way to live.
As social creatures, Jesus understood that human beings are naturally influenced by their relationships and that nature compels us to take cues from the outside world in order to effectively navigate our lives; but this doesn’t mean we have to relinquish control. Jesus taught that it was possible to gain command over one’s own internal experience by beginning to live from the inside out. This is a lifetime’s work. Jesus believed that turning inward and tuning in to our inner experience can help us begin to respond to the outside world in different, perhaps more empowering ways, and a more centered sense of command over our life.
Let us pray for more peace and more possibilities: Heavenly Father, I ask that you would change me from the inside out. I ask, Lord that you would release grace, mercy and power from heaven for me to pursue you with vigor and passion. I ask, Lord, that you would renew my mind and heal my heart. I ask to know you, to see you, to behold you in all your glory. I ask that you guide me by your Spirit in every step I take so that I can be all that you created me to be. Fill my heart with your love and guide my desires to become the same as the desires that you have for me. Show me the ways I can best serve you. I invite you into every interaction I have today. May your love shine through me every day. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Here are some reflective questions on living from inside outrather than from the outside in:
• Why have so many of us learned to live our life the wrong way around?
• Who is someone you know that wears humility well?
• In what tangible ways do they wear it well? Pick one way you can “put on” humility this week.
In what area are you most likely to struggle with humility?
• Where do you tend to judge other people the most?
• In what ways are you overly self-focused, either with anxiety, pride, insecurity, self-promotion, or worry?
• Is there any area in your life where you insist on going your own way and are unwilling to walk in humble obedience to the Lord?
• What in your life is competing with obedience to God or the duties He has given you?
• Is there someone in your life you need to actively consider more important than yourself?
• How can you seek to humbly show preference to that person over your own desires or wants?