I am currently reading on of the most encouraging, challenging, kick-in-the-backside books I have ever read. It is challenging the way I think and the way I strive to live out being a follower of Jesus. The book? The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard.
Here is the piece that made me stop in my tracks yesterday:
But the question is, How can one keep the law? Jesus well knew the answer to this question, and that is why he told those who wanted to know how to work the works of God to put their confidence in the one God had sent (John 6:29). He knew that we cannot keep the law by trying to keep the law. To succeed in keeping the law one must aim at something other and something more. One must aim to become the kind of person from whom the deeds of the law naturally flow. The apple tree naturally and easily produces apples because of its inner nature. (Willard, Dallas The Divine Conspiracy (pp. 142-143). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition. emphasis added)
This is both freeing and frightful at the same time. It reminds me that my righteousness doesn’t depend on me at all, while at the same time – in a very different sort of way – depends entirely on me.
I have been wrestling (for more than a year now) with how our identity plays into the living out of our faith. If I am going to “become the kind of person from whom the deeds of the law naturally flow” then I must get abundant clarity around who I am…and who God is. In this area, hard work just won’t cut it. Hard work has never…well…worked when it comes to righteousness.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a good deal of effort when it comes to “becoming.” The hard work, however, is of a very different nature. While there is much to be written on this subject, I do believe there are two habits that we must develop if we are ever to become clear on our identity.
The habit of stillness. Let’s face it, we live in a noisy world. And most of the time, I embrace the noise. Or at least become numb to it. Noise is the norm. The noise of the radio, television, Facebook, Twitter, people, kids, and on it goes. How is it even possible to remember – let alone become! – who I am if I never take the time to hear from the One who made me? Truth is…I can’t. I must build stillness into my days. And like other habits, it won’t just happen. It must be planned out and developed over time. (Note: If you’re looking for a terrific book to help you get started, I highly recommend Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton.)
The habit of listening to the Word. I purposefully call this habit listening instead of just reading or studying. Both of those are extremely important, but apart from listening while we read and study, we will be tempted to simply gain knowledge or understanding. (Again…both good things.) Intentionally listening to what God has to say about who I am through His Word is a habit that will bring both clarity of identity and joy in my relationship with a God who created me, loves me, and calls me child and friend.
What is your response to Willard’s quote?
(Disclaimer: The links in this email are affiliate links and I will receive a small payment should you purchase. However, I never link to any book or product that I don’t sincerely believe in.)