You’ll Thank Me For This!

Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) has been one of my favorite authors for some time. As a philosophy professor at USC, his view of God and his work in the world is breathtaking. I wouldn’t say we see everything in exactly the same way, but I always come away from reading his things greatly encouraged to live more deeply in Jesus, and having some excellent instructions on how to do that.

Admittedly some find his writings a bit too academic. That’s sad to me, because they are filled with such great life and wisdom. Recently I ran across an audio series of his at the Allelon website, that I hope everyone can benefit from. The title of the one I’ve listedn to is: Spiritual Formation in the Ways of Christ. This is good stuff on living a transformed life. Here are some of the things he said that I really appreciated:

We don’t build churches. We preach the kingdom, make disciples, bring them together in the presence of God and grow them and the church results.

The church: The people who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and are living together and dwelling with one another and allowing that mutual nurturing to happen….

What you really believe about Jesus Christ is shown by what you do after you learn you can’t do anything.

Spiritual formation is not learning to do the right things; it is becoming a different kind of person who will do different things. If you want to keep the law, don’t try to keep the law. Try to become the kind of person who would naturally keep the law.

If you want to hear the entire teaching, click here.

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14 Comments
  1. Dave A July 21, 2006 at 4:08 am

    I attempted to read Divine Conspiracy a few years ago and found it to be such a difficult read. Very heavy academically for me. I began listening to the audio message you mention above and did find Willard much more understandable. Either he speaks more simply or I got smarter me. So maybe I’ll give Divine Conspiracy another chance.

    One comment on his last paragraph above where he says:

    “If you want to keep the law, don’t try to keep the law. Try to become the kind of person who would naturally keep the law.”

    It’s that “try to become” part that bothers me. Sounds like that’s based on my efforts but I may be taking that out of context. Surely out of the context on how you think, Wayne.

    Thanks,

    Dave

  2. Bob July 21, 2006 at 5:11 am

    Great post, Wayne. Thank you (I guess you said I’d thank you and I did!) I really like the idea of the church not being a place where we meet God but rather the church being what springs from knowing Him.

    I’ll have to sit with this quote for a bit…

  3. Dave A July 21, 2006 at 7:08 am

    I attempted to read Divine Conspiracy a few years ago and found it to be such a difficult read. Very heavy academically for me. I began listening to the audio message you mention above and did find Willard much more understandable. Either he speaks more simply or I got smarter me. So maybe I’ll give Divine Conspiracy another chance.

    One comment on his last paragraph above where he says:

    “If you want to keep the law, don’t try to keep the law. Try to become the kind of person who would naturally keep the law.”

    It’s that “try to become” part that bothers me. Sounds like that’s based on my efforts but I may be taking that out of context. Surely out of the context on how you think, Wayne.

    Thanks,

    Dave

  4. Bob July 21, 2006 at 8:11 am

    Great post, Wayne. Thank you (I guess you said I’d thank you and I did!) I really like the idea of the church not being a place where we meet God but rather the church being what springs from knowing Him.

    I’ll have to sit with this quote for a bit…

  5. Wayne July 21, 2006 at 8:58 am

    Dave,

    I appreciate your concern with his phrasing, but the context of ‘try to become’ is to immerse ourselves in the relationship that brings transformation. I like what he adds to the fact that we do have a part in this process. It is not to act differently, but it is also not to lie on the couch hoping something better happens in u s.

    I guess I’m getting too old to worry about whether every person says it exactly right, and just embrace the truth that underlies what he’s saying.

  6. Dave Aldrich July 21, 2006 at 9:40 am

    After I posted what I said above I knew I was just pulling that one phrase out of context. As I continue to listen to Willard’s message I get it more.

    I think I have told you that I had battled the “works” thing for a long time. I had struggled with how I was going become more “Christ-like” by trying to figure out what was my responsibility and what what the Lord’s. What I heard from some folks was that it was more up to me to “get it right, try harder,” but my heart kept telling me that smacked more of self-effort and law obedience than a life that is transformed by being with Jesus. I know it’s more than just sitting on the couch with Him now! I know there is a cooperating with Him that we do. But He increasingly shows me that this life of transformation is first and foremost a thing of His doing. We surrender all, in an ongoing process. So is surrender a work?

    The more I focus on my failures and short-comings the more I fail and feel helpless to overcome. The more I Iook unto Jesus, as the author and perfector of this faith, the more I simply see Him and want to be with Him. I think I have given up trying to be like Jesus and instead just love the fact the He is in me and I am in Him and what a joy it is just to be. And lo and behold I am changed!

    Now how does one explain that to those of the religious mindset so it doesn’t sound like, “ya just gotta have more faith!”?

    Much love to you, Brother. The Lord has used you to open these eyes and heart of mine more than you know.

    Dave

  7. Wayne July 21, 2006 at 11:58 am

    Dave,

    I appreciate your concern with his phrasing, but the context of ‘try to become’ is to immerse ourselves in the relationship that brings transformation. I like what he adds to the fact that we do have a part in this process. It is not to act differently, but it is also not to lie on the couch hoping something better happens in u s.

    I guess I’m getting too old to worry about whether every person says it exactly right, and just embrace the truth that underlies what he’s saying.

  8. Dave Aldrich July 21, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    After I posted what I said above I knew I was just pulling that one phrase out of context. As I continue to listen to Willard’s message I get it more.

    I think I have told you that I had battled the “works” thing for a long time. I had struggled with how I was going become more “Christ-like” by trying to figure out what was my responsibility and what what the Lord’s. What I heard from some folks was that it was more up to me to “get it right, try harder,” but my heart kept telling me that smacked more of self-effort and law obedience than a life that is transformed by being with Jesus. I know it’s more than just sitting on the couch with Him now! I know there is a cooperating with Him that we do. But He increasingly shows me that this life of transformation is first and foremost a thing of His doing. We surrender all, in an ongoing process. So is surrender a work?

    The more I focus on my failures and short-comings the more I fail and feel helpless to overcome. The more I Iook unto Jesus, as the author and perfector of this faith, the more I simply see Him and want to be with Him. I think I have given up trying to be like Jesus and instead just love the fact the He is in me and I am in Him and what a joy it is just to be. And lo and behold I am changed!

    Now how does one explain that to those of the religious mindset so it doesn’t sound like, “ya just gotta have more faith!”?

    Much love to you, Brother. The Lord has used you to open these eyes and heart of mine more than you know.

    Dave

  9. ArnieB July 24, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    Great post, Wayne.

    I have been a fan of Willard for some time. I too don’t always agree with all of his conclusions or the way he chooses to state things, but overall, some real good stuff.

    Dave, I encourage you to give “Divine Conspiracy” another shot. If I remember correctly, the first chapter or two are pretty difficult, but after that, it reads like another book. “Renovation of the Heart” is pretty good as well (although academic).

    ArnieB

  10. ArnieB July 24, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    Great post, Wayne.

    I have been a fan of Willard for some time. I too don’t always agree with all of his conclusions or the way he chooses to state things, but overall, some real good stuff.

    Dave, I encourage you to give “Divine Conspiracy” another shot. If I remember correctly, the first chapter or two are pretty difficult, but after that, it reads like another book. “Renovation of the Heart” is pretty good as well (although academic).

    ArnieB

  11. Dave Aldrich July 25, 2006 at 7:31 am

    Thanks, Arnie, I believe I will. I’ll have to add it to my already too long of books I want to read this summer!

    Dave

  12. Dave Aldrich July 25, 2006 at 10:31 am

    Thanks, Arnie, I believe I will. I’ll have to add it to my already too long of books I want to read this summer!

    Dave

  13. Joe Osborne July 28, 2006 at 3:02 am

    After listening to Dallas Willard I went out and picked up “Hearing God” … just started reading it, and it’s interesting and pretty acceesible. Basically talks about how God communicates with us. Seems like a good book on “how” rather than the ususal “what” we get from typical Christian preaching.

    Dave, you might want to give this one a shot, plus it’s in paperback.

    Joe Osborne

  14. Joe Osborne July 28, 2006 at 6:02 am

    After listening to Dallas Willard I went out and picked up “Hearing God” … just started reading it, and it’s interesting and pretty acceesible. Basically talks about how God communicates with us. Seems like a good book on “how” rather than the ususal “what” we get from typical Christian preaching.

    Dave, you might want to give this one a shot, plus it’s in paperback.

    Joe Osborne

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