Dallas Willard: Admire and emulate

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Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:2-3

“Obedience, with the life of discipline it requires, both leads to and, then, issues from the pervasive inner transformation of the heart and soul. The abiding condition of the disciple becomes one of “love, joy, peace, long-suffering [patience], kindness, goodness, faith to the brim, meekness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22; compare 2 Peter 1:2–11). And the love is genuine to our deepest core. These are called the “fruit of the Spirit” because they are not direct effects of our efforts but are brought about in us as we admire and emulate Jesus and do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.”

Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God (New York: HarperCollins, 1998) 368.

As the GTP begins to bond with each other on the DC leg of our trip, my focus is keeping Christ at the center and challenging everyone “to do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.”

How do we get there? In short, we admire and emulate Jesus.

Why? As the Apostle Peter put it, in Jesus we have everything we need for a godly life that reflects His glory and goodness (or generosity). But His teachings are counterintuitive: we don’t figure them out until we live them out.

That’s where Willard’s ‘pervasive inner transformation’ comes into play. The teachings of Jesus take us on a formational journey, which transforms us into people of love who exhibit generosity, among other great traits.

Where’s a good starting point? Read a Gospel. Pick one: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Admire and emulate Jesus. Watch His movements and interaction with people. Wonder at His parables.

Most importantly, listen closely to His pointed teaching. “Do whatever is necessary to learn how to obey Him.” He came to give us life and help others grasp it. See what happens in and through you as you do.