Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 9/9

Children of Light

This is the end of Dallas Willard! He finishes with a good section on what he calls 'Children of Light' a summary of what his book Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ is all about - it is a good place to start should you want to read what is a dense and in places a pretty hard read if you are a 'cover to cover' person. Here is the section in full:-

Thought life. Perhaps the first thing we notice when we get to know their inner life is what they think about, or what is on their mind. They think about God. He is never out of their mind. They love to dwell upon God and upon his greatness and loveliness, as brought to light in Jesus Christ. They adore him in nature, in history, in his Son and in his saints. One could even say they are 'God-intoxicated' (Acts 2:13; Eph 5:18), though no-one has a stronger sense of reality and practicality than they do. Their mind is filled with biblical ideas of God's nature, actions, and his plans for the world. They do not dwell upon evil. It is not a big thing in their thoughts. They are sure of its defeat, but they still deal with it appropriately in specific situations.

Feelings. And then perhaps we notice - and small wonder given what has already been observed - that the emotional life of these children of light is characterized by love. That is how they invest their emotions. They love lots of good things and they love people. They love their life and who they are. They are thankful for their life, even though it may contain many difficulties, even persecution (Matt 5:10-12). They receive all of it as God's gift, or at least as his allowance, and they know his goodness and greatness will outlast any trouble they might have, and that they will live with him forever. And so joy and peace are with them even in the hardest of times, even when they suffer unjustly. Because of what they have learned about God they are confident and hopeful and do not indulge thoughts of rejection, failure and hopelessness.

Will. Looking a little deeper we find that these children of light are devoted to doing what is good and right. Their will is habitually attuned to it, just as their mind and emotions are habitually homing in on Gad. They are attentive to rightness, to kindness, to helpfulness; and they find out about what people need, and try to do what is right and good in appropriate ways.

These are people who do not think first of themselves and what they want. and they really care very little about getting their own way. Paul wrote, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Phil 2:3-4), and these are easy and good instructions to them. They are abandoned to God's will and do not struggle and deliberate as to whether they will do what they know to be wrong. They do not hesitate to do what they know to be right. It is the obvious thing to do.

Body. That, of course, involves their bodies. Their body has been, trained to do good. It is constantly prepared to do what is right and good without thinking. And that also means that it does not automatically move into what is wrong, even contrary to their resolves and intentions before they can think.

Consequently, we do not see them always being trapped by what their tongue, facial expressions, eyes, hands, and so on have already done before they can think. For their body and its parts are consecrated to serve God and are habituated to being his holy instruments. These people instinctively avoid the paths of temptation. There is a freshness about them, a kind of quiet strength, and a transparency. They are rested and playful in a bodily strength that is
from God. He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead has given life to their bodies through his Spirit who dwells in them.

Social relations. In their relationships with others they are completely transparent. Because they walk in goodness they have no use for deceit, and they achieve real contact or fellowship with others, especially other apprentices of Jesus. (1 John 1:7 and 2:10). These people do not conceal their thoughts and feelings, though they do not impose them upon every~ one. Because of their confidence in God they do not try to manipulate and manage others. Needless to say, in their social contexts they do not go on the attack, intending to use or to hurt others.

Soul, Finally, as you come to know these people, you see that all of the above is not just at the surface. It is deep, and, in a certain sense, it is effortless. It flows. That is, the things we have been describing are not things the children of light are constantly trying hard to do, gritting their teeth. Rather, these are features of life that well up out of souls which are at home in God.

Now for NT Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God for my next worthy read!


Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 1/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 2/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 3/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 4/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 5/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 6/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 7/9
Dallas Willard on Spiritual Formation... 8/9

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