My son and daughter were at a national youth conference this summer in Colorado where Alex Harris, author of Do Hard Things, spoke to the crowd of three thousand teens. The event was streamed live, so I had the chance in Iowa to hear Alex as well. During his message, he encouraged teens to "make friends with dead people". Harris suggested that we all need mentors, but so often our living mentors have busy lives and might be difficult to sit down with very regularly. On the other hand, spiritual giants who have lived and died but have left behind some of their books and writings make excellent mentors for us as we walk with Jesus.
I "amen"-ed loudly as Alex shared. One such mentor and spiritual director in my life is Dallas Willard. Willard directs me to the heart of Jesus and the Kingdom of God so profoundly. When I listen to Willard teach on the Kingdom and on spiritual transformation, the Holy Spirit taps into my deepest longings and helps me to better understand what a life lived in the Kingdom of God looks like. I decided that I'd dedicate Wednesday blog posts to some Willard thoughts, quotes, links the rest of this year.
Below are quotes from an interview between John Ortberg and Dallas Willard at a Catalyst Conference. You can see the whole 6 minute clip here.
Ortberg: You've been in the church 70 years. What has the church not been getting right that you think God is calling this generation of church leaders to get right...what needs to be gotten right?
Willard: ...their problem is with their message..what is their central message....the inability to make touch with what Jesus himself presented as the central message undermines all of the efforts of the church. Unless you understand that Jesus invites us through faith in him-that means putting your confidence in Him-to actually live in the Kingdom of God now, there will not be a basis for discipleship and transformation.
Ortberg: ..so, if the Gospel of Jesus isn't primarily 'here's how to make sure you get into Heaven when you die', what is Jesus's Gospel?
Willard: It's how to get into Heaven before you die. That why the New Testament routinely treats you as if you have already died..it's because you have made a transition from a life on your own to a life that God Himself is living in His Kingdom. You get to be a part of that.