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Archive for June 23rd, 2022

Life in the Kingdom

MEDITATION:

Written by Dallas Willard (1935-2013), an American philosopher, speaker, and author  known for his writings on Christian spiritual formation. This is an excerpt from his book “Renovation of the Heart.”

The vision of life in the kingdom through reliance upon Jesus makes it possible for us to intend to live in the kingdom as he did. We can actually decide to do it. Of course, that means first of all to trust him, rely on him, to count on him being the Anointed One, the Christ. It is through him that the revelation and the gift of the kingdom come to us individually. If we do not count on him as “the One,” we will have no adequate vision of the kingdom or of life therein and no way to enter it. He is “the door;” he is “the way.” Find another whoever can. Concretely, we intend to live in the kingdom of God by intending to obey the precise example and teachings of Jesus. This is the form that trust in him takes. It does not take the form of merely believing things about him, however true they may be. Indeed, no one can actually believe the truth about him without trusting him by intending to obey him. It is a mental impossibility. To think otherwise is to indulge in a widespread illusion that now smothers spiritual formation in Christlikeness among professing Christians and prevents it from naturally spreading worldwide. Gandhi, who had looked closely at Christianity as practiced around him in Great Britain remarked that if only Christians would live according to their belief in the teachings of Jesus, “we all would become Christians.” We know what he meant, and he was right in that. But the dismaying truth is that the Christians were living according to their “belief” in the teachings of Jesus. They didn’t believe him!  Moreover, knowing the “right answers”—knowing which ones they are, being able to identify them—does not mean we believe them. To believe them, like believing anything else, means that we set to act as if they (the right answers) are true and that we will do so in appropriate circumstances. And acting as if the right answers are true means, in turn, that we intend to obey the example and teachings of Jesus the Anointed. What else would we intend if we believed he is who his people through the ages have declared him to be? Perhaps the hardest thing for sincere Christians to come to grips with is the level of real unbelief in their own life: the unformulated skepticism about Jesus that permeates all dimensions of their being and undermines what efforts they do make toward Christlikeness. The idea that you can trust Christ and intend not to obey him is an illusion generated by the prevalence of an unbelieving “Christian culture.”

PRAYER:

Today’s prayer is from a common lectionary from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

God of the covenant,

in the glory of the cross

your Son embraced the power of death

and broke its hold over your people.

In this time of repentance,

draw all people to yourself,

that we who confess Jesus as Lord

may put aside the deeds of death

and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.

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