Note: I am re-reading Dallas Willard’s book, The Divine Conspiracy. Over the next several weeks’ I’ll be posting my reflections as I make my way through a book that changed my life nearly a decade ago.
Dallas Willard, says he wrote The Divine Conspiracy, “to gain a fresh hearing of Jesus.” Willard believes over familiarity with Jesus’ teachings have led many Christians to “profound ignorance” about following him, meaning “he [Jesus] is not taken to be a person of much ability.” For example, when Jesus says love your enemies, he can’t be serious, it’s an ideal that doesn’t work in the “real” world. In contrast Willard argues, Jesus’ original followers took him at his word, they saw his teachings as the best way to live in this world. He writes:
The early message was, accordingly, not experienced as something its hearers had to believe or do because otherwise something bad—something with no essential connection with real life—would happen to them. The people generally impacted by that message generally concluded that they would be fools to disregard it. That was the basis of their conversion.
The Divine Conspiracy, p. xiv
Continue reading 'Tuesdays with Willard – Introduction'»
I’ve decided to read The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard … again. Here’s why:
1. Dallas Willard changed my life:
Well Jesus actually did, but I discovered the Gospel again for the first time through Willard’s book. That was nearly a decade ago. I refer to The Divine Conspiracy often, but haven’t read through the entire book in several years.
2. I’m studying it with a friend:
The impetus has been the recently published, The Divine Conspiracy DVD & Study,with Dallas Willard and John Ortberg. A friend and I have decided to go through this together over coffee during the next several weeks (espressos for me).
3. It’s an opportunity to journal:
During this time I’ll post brief reflections on Tuesdays, based on chapters from Willard’s book ( It’s Wednesday, I know, there wasn’t time to post this yesterday). If you haven’t read The Divine Conspiracy before, I encourage you to get a copy and start yesterday. Richard Foster says he’ll never recommend a book higher, I agree.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And … love your neighbor as yourself.”
I pastor a church in the suburbs called CrossWalk. We have a saying around our church that we are learning to love well. It’s our mission and it comes from this simple yet challenging teaching of Jesus. Scot McKnight refers to this as the Jesus Creed. Several years ago be began reciting it throughout the day. It transformed his life and eventually led him to write The Jesus Creed.
Since the Jesus Creed is the basis of CrossWalk’s mission we decided to encourage our community to go through Scot’s companion book 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed during the season of Lent. Each day provides a simple reflection on learning to love well. So far it’s been a good experience. In fact my family is using it everyday. We’re reciting the Jesus Creed with our kids each morning and evening (we’ve even had some fun with it while driving around town).
So if you’re looking for something to add to your Lenten practices this year, there’s still time to grab a copy and join us on our journey. In fact, come by CrossWalk this week if you are in town and I’ll give you a free copy (We gave away 300 copies at CrossWalk the last few weeks). There’s a few books left, but its first come first serve at this point.
Here’s an article by Barbara Brown Taylor on the meaning of Lent. I like her take on how the forty days idea took root in Christian faith & practice. It’s from a 1998 issue of Christian Century, titled Settling for Less, based on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness in Luke 4:1-13:
Do not bother looking for Lent in your Bible dictionary. There was no such thing in biblical times. There is some evidence that early Christians fasted 40 hours between Good Friday and Easter, but the custom of spending 40 days in prayer and self-denial did not arise until later, when the initial rush of Christian adrenaline was over and believers had gotten very ho-hum about their faith.
When the world did not end as Jesus himself had said it would, his followers stopped expecting so much from God or from themselves. They hung a wooden cross on the wall and settled back into their more or less comfortable routines, remembering their once passionate devotion to God the way they remembered the other enthusiasms of their youth. Continue reading 'The Meaning of Lent'»