Within You.

The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.
– Jesus, Luke 17:20&21

With this statement, Jesus is addressing something psychologically fundamental to every human being: what you really want, what you really desire is not somewhere out there so that you may someday hopefully come across it, but it "is very near you."

Truths middle school and high school students wrote on a wall at Old Oak Ranch. I am inspired by them. "Jesus, you are graceful and persistent in your love."

For so many years, I isolated Jesus' message to only be something that addresses my religion, even though he speaks strictly against that kind of thought. His life and words were not about making another world religion (Jesus never used the word "Christian" or talked about splitting off from Judaism), but he was revealing the problem and solution for the human condition: We seek external answers to internal problems.

All anyone wants is to be happy, right? In whatever myriad of ways we go about living our lives, it all comes down to our seeking happiness. The conflict arises when we act as if the internal state of happiness will come from an external state of circumstance. Circumstance touches us internally in powerful ways, but then we retreat back out to what's external instead of sitting with what it is all about.

Jesus reveals a happiness, peace, and love that goes beyond understanding...which is why so many of us have gotten it all wrong for so many centuries: we've tried to understand it before we simply accepted, practiced, and experienced it. Doing this is like studying guitar without ever playing it; it's backwards and doesn't work! You may have an educated opinion, but you completely lack both the skill and ability to do anything with it.

Jesus makes it perfectly simple: Love God with your whole being and love your neighbor (whomever that may be at any given moment) as if they were you. We complicate it by trying to understand it without just doing it first. That's backwards. The best way to study Scripture is to live it out. If you can't live out something in Scripture, it is not worth studying.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 
– Jesus, John 5:39&40