About the Author
Dr. Dallas Willard, professor and former director of the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California, is the author of more than thirty works, including The Divine Conspiracy and The Spirit of the Disciplines. Jan Johnson has created several devotionals, including Hearing God Through the Year.
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RENOVATION OF THE HEART IN DAILY PRACTICEEXPERIMENTS IN SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION
By DALLAS WILLARD JAN JOHNSON
NAVPRESSCopyright © 2006 Jan Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKingdom Possibilities
When we open ourselves to New Testament writings and absorb our minds and hearts in one of the Gospels or in letters such as Ephesians or 1 Peter, we get the impression we are looking into another world and another life. It is a divine world and a divine life. Leaping out from the pages are amazing promises to those who give their life to this new world through their confidence in Jesus. For example, Jesus said that those who give themselves to him will receive "living water," the Spirit of God himself. He will keep them from ever again being thirsty-being driven and ruled by unsatisfied desires (see John 4:14). Indeed, they will receive "rivers of living water" flowing from the center of their life to a thirsty world (John 7:38, NRSV)
Paul prayed that believers will "know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God ... by the power at work within us, that is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:19-20, PAR) Peter said that those who love and trust Jesus will "rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy" (1 Peter 1:8, NRSV), with "genuine mutual love" pouring from their hearts (1:22, NRSV), ridding themselves of "all malice, and all guile,insincerity, envy, and all slander" (2:1, NRSV). As if that weren't enough, these believers would silences coffers of the Way of Christ by simply doing what is right (see 2:15) and casting all their anxieties upon God because he cares for us (see 5:7).
Ordinary people have entered this kingdom of God and are entering this divine world and divine life even now. It is a world that seems open to us and beckons us to enter. We feel its call.
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We often say, "Nobody's perfect." We don't say this just when someone fails but also when we run up against the Bible's description of the kingdom personality of "genuine mutual love" that is free of "all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander." Perhaps we rush to say it because we feel inadequate compared to such love. But what if we don't make that description about us-focusing on our shortcomings-but instead linger on the beauty of God and God's kingdom?
Is it possible we rush to say, "Nobody's perfect" because we've met so few people who show genuine love and move through life without superiority, insensitivity, or gossip? Maybe we have met a few but didn't notice the beauty of their Christlikeness. Instead, we were impressed by other things-their ability to quote Bible verses or answer questions about world religions. Those who speak articulately about the Bible may draw our attention more than those who live a transformed life.
Try picturing this hypothetical moment of dwelling on the beauty of God and the kingdom life: Let's say I confessed to you my disgust with someone who annoyed me and how hopeless I felt about ever loving this person. What if instead of trying to make me feel better by saying, "Nobody's perfect," you said you believed in God's power to transform me into a radical person who pays loving attention to those who annoy me? What if you prayed for me about this? What if later that day you encountered an annoying person and, without thinking, treated that person with kindness and attentiveness-partly because of the transforming effect of our conversation about the kingdom personality?
Read slowly these phrases describing the kingdom life and personality:
to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge to be filled with all the fullness of God power at work within us able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy genuine mutual love pouring from their hearts without malice, guile, insincerity, envy, and slander
Thank God for the beauty of the kingdom life and for the possibility of the transformation of your soul. Spend a minute or two longing for the kingdom of God in your life: "Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done!"
Excerpted from RENOVATION OF THE HEART IN DAILY PRACTICE by DALLAS WILLARD JAN JOHNSON Copyright © 2006 by Jan Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
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