Sometimes (most of the time?) the Kingdom of God is only dimly discernible. We might ponder, or glance, or peer through the earthly haze. Personally, I have the attention span and the depth of a hummingbird, so it can take a written passage or a word spoken directly to make me take notice. In the following three posts I will share some recent glances.
The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth (the follow-up volume to Dallas Willard’s 1998 Divine Conspiracy)
First, a quote from the first volume. I’m drawn in by this quote (which someone else extracted).
This book, then, presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in His present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits. – from The Divine Conspiracy
I affirm that Jesus is indeed reigning now, and that His reign is a matter to be acknowledged on earth, and also by the subtitle of the book shown above. But what does it mean to fulfill the kingdom on earth, now that Jesus has ushered it in, that is?
The sequel is co-authored by the late Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr. (and completed by the latter after Willard’s death). I have not read the original volume, partly because I vaguely associate it with a supposedly discernible sense of “the presence of God in my life” and Holy-Spirit-guidance language, and I am not naturally sympathetic to those concepts. (Some readers might be taken aback at my recalcitrance here, and understandably so. Readers closest to me will perhaps not be surprised and may be able to offer some bridging/connecting thoughts to help us all.) Blurbs by Richard Foster and Scot McKnight, not to mention words of some others with whom I’m not acquainted, do help to encourage me to pay attention to this book.
When I come upon the suggestion that following King Jesus connect to leadership in all walks of life, I instantly think of hierarchies and corporate ladders and political structures. I’m not sure that is the ultimate focus here, although a chapter on Jesus’ reign in our professions is entitled “Physicians, Lawyers, and Pastors or Priests.” Prior chapters deal in business, economics, and politics, so I become suspicious of a worldly, not only reality-grounded, mentality. However, the notion of letting Jesus’ beneficent dominion infiltrate human life seems patently on target at its core. Unless I make some spiritual effort to enthrone Jesus as king, practically speaking, while I live this life, the lordship/kingdom is not as real as it should be for me. That says nothing of the kingdom reality beyond myself, but insofar as the kingdom is within me or within my grasp, I need to be aware of the throne of King Jesus, showing loyalty as His subject.
I am hereby publicly committing to read at least the culminating chapter in this book: “The Kingdom of Our God.” Surely I will catch a glimpse of Willardian (and now Blackian) kingdom discipleship—or at least their vision for a Kingdom-salted earth—by reading this chapter.