Although this book by Dallas Willard is over 10 years old, that’s irrelevant. The spiritual problems it addresses are timeless. We used it as a background book in our ladies’ class at church this summer. After my second reading through the book, I continue to find it even more engrossing.
Willard’s message is:
* Live the kingdom life now.
* Be a true disciple.
* Actively pursue a relationship with the real person Jesus Christ, not with some shadowy ghost-figure that only exists in the pages of a book.
I was constantly challenged in every chapter to go deeper with God, to seek him in ways that are relevant to my everyday life.
The Gospel isn’t meant to simply inform us; it’s meant to transform us. That transformation touches every part of who we are as we pattern our lives after the life of Jesus.
Much of the book is rooted in Jesus’ teachings given in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. But Willard presents the truths here in a way I had not heard before. He has a way of drilling into the heart of Jesus’ words to show a tighter connectedness between the outward actions Jesus spoke of and our inward beliefs. If we don’t dive deeply enough into the “why,” we miss out on the “what.”
Bottom line, Willard encourages Christians to love God and love others because that’s what Kingdom life is all about. God doesn’t call us to obedience simply to keep us out of sin (although he definitely desires that); he calls us to obedience so we can be changed into the image of his Son.
I have a hunch I’m still not finished with this book. It’s meaty. It can be difficult in places. But it’s worthy to return to again and again.
If you also are striving to grow in maturity as a disciple of Christ, I recommend this book to you. You’ll be challenged in all the right places.
* * * * *
Chapter 1: Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now
Chapter 2: Gospels of Sin Management
Chapter 3: What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World
Chapter 4: Who is Really Well Off? — The Beatitudes
Chapter 5: The Rightness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees
Chapter 6: Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputation and Wealth
Chapter 7: The Community of Prayerful Love
Chapter 8: On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus
Chapter 9: A Curriculum for Christlikeness *
Chapter 10: The Restoration of All Things
* Read an excerpt here from chapter 9, “A Curriculum for Christlikeness”