I 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.