Last week I finally finished Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy. It was a challenging book to read on several fronts. Richard Foster is the author whose review is printed on the back of the book and his assessment of Willard’s work as “thorough” is probably the best word to describe the book and help explain why it is daunting to read. It is the kind of book you slowly meander through as oppose to race to the end. It addresses every aspect of life. I’d say it is quite thorough.
A final thought from Willard is regarding the final chapter. In some ways his final chapter would have been best suited as the first chapter. What is the “real world”? Our conception of reality is so shallow and misguided. We see the things around us as “real.” Reality versus perception is now more difficult to discern than ever. When we watch a movie or even a commercial we are forced to ask ourselves, “was that real, or was it something someone just made up?” Remember the Blair Witch Project? That was the driving force behind the film’s success – reality or Hollywood?
The challenging call of God is to see the world around us as not-as-real as the spiritual reality he has called his children to. Reality is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. We see evidence of these things in pieces scattered abroad throughout our world, but what if we saw even one of them in their purest sense? That is reality. That is the real world.
As Christians we are called to live a life that chases reality in the purest and most wonderful sense. Materialism is shallow. Potlitcs are shallow. Economics are shallow. Sports are shallow. Depth and reality shows its face in the truly important things of the world: faith, hope, and love.
And we as Christians live for a kingdom that is already established, but not yet finished. The talbe is set, the places are made, some are sitting waiting for other guests, and we should live our lives knowing that there is a place for us. That frees us from guilt and fear, from worry and ulcers. God has taken care of us. I think the entire premise of Revelation is to live for tomorrow. Live like the end is here . . . like Jesus is in charge of the world (because he really is, though looking at Christians you can hardly tell sometimes.)
All church-going folks would be blessed to read this book. The divine conspiracy is evident in every person’s life, and it is the challege before us all to uncover it and pursue it.
I have begun Tony Jones’ youth ministry standby – Postmodern Youth Ministry. I’m only five years behind in reading it, but better late than never. I’m already half way through and am finding myself right on board with him. I may copy chapter 2 because it is so similiar to the paradigm that I find myself chasing. I foresee a few posts reflecting on Jones’ book before pressing on.