life in the kingdom

Divine Conspiracy CoverI occasionally take time to review The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. I read this book a few years ago, and was profoundly impacted by it. Today as I flipped through, I was looking for wisdom about what life looks like when we place ourselves in the care of God’s rule. Depending on which preacher has the floor, I have heard two different things about life in God’s kingdom.

One idea is that I should prepare for a life of discomfort and difficulty if I choose to follow Jesus. All the relevant Scripture passages are used to support this, like the times that Jesus told his disciples to take up their execution device (cross) and follow Him. Unfortunately, this idea doesn’t tell the whole story. There is also joy in this journey.

The other idea I’ve heard also sounds extreme. The claim is that life with God is the “good life” and that life’s circumstances improve when we are following Christ. It is an attractive extreme that can sell a lot of books and draw big crowds, but it lacks the reality of a Gospel that promises a good life regardless of the circumstances.

Dallas Willard’s approach to the kingdom of God sets the question in balance:

Standing in the kingdom, we make responsible decisions in love, with assurance that how things turn out for us does not really matter that much because, in any case, we are in the kingdom of the heavens. In that kingdom, nothing that can happen to us is “the end of the world.”

Our circumstances have lost their power over us. In God’s kingdom we are taken care of and never overlooked, regardless of how much pain and trial we endure.

2 responses to “life in the kingdom

  1. The call of Jesus for His passsionate followers (vs. merely “good Christian men”) is surely one that includes suffering… trials, persucutions and adversities of many sorts. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith. It is likely to remain stunted as long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers as well as when all things are against her”

    Suffering is surely a staple of the Christian diet. However, it is not a joyless diet. We have a joy in the midst of our suffering that outlasts our suffering… as John Piper points out.

    Recently I read an insigtful piece in regards to the topic of which you cover here. The writer recaps John Piper’s book “What Jesus Demands from the World”… demands #8 and #10 were very applicable in regards to that which you address… it can be found at:
    http://fundyreformed.wordpress.com/tag/demands-of-jesus/

    I think the teachings of Jesus make it clear that we can expect no less than some amount of suffering ourselves if we are truly followers of His… “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…”

    David, a flawed and geniune man and a man who followed God passionately if I ever read about one, reminds us…

    Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
    I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side…

  2. Divine Conspiracy is one of the best books I’ve read. Willard just says things so well. Glad you too are blessed by it and thanks for the reminder.

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