Dallas Willard and the Good Life (Part 2 of 3)

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dallas willardWhile at our conference at the Chesapeake Bay, I asked Dallas if he could elaborate more on how belief should inspire action. He did so by giving me a simple example. He pointed to the chair I was I sitting on. “Nick, did you believe that chair was going to support you before you sat upon it?”

“Um…yeah. It looks to be a sturdy wooden chair with four legs. I don’t see why not.”

“So, when you decided to come over here to talk with me, you did not hesitate to sit upon it. You trusted it would support you, so you took action.” He explained how this should be the case with individuals who follow spiritual teachings. They should hold a belief so strongly that they do not even have to consciously think to act on it. Dallas fears this is not the case for many fellow Christians because they see Jesus as either a magician who can cancel all their wrongs with a snap of a finger, or an ancient sage-like figure who presented a wispy notion of good moral behavior.

Dallas believes Jesus’s teachings represent more than this – he believes they are the wisest instructions for us to use in making decisions. He believes we should trust in these teachings to the point that we know they will lead us to the Good Life if we take action on them.

The Kingdom Principle

Now that I have given you some of Dallas’s theological beliefs and the philosophical framework in which he broke down the question, I want to give you the exact response that he gave when I reconnected with him at a recent event at Stanford University. He said, “The Good Life is those who live in the Kingdom of God.” By “Kingdom of God,” he is referring to those who recognize they have an eternal destiny if they choose to use their range of influence to bring God’s will into society.

Dallas noted that the phrase “the Good Life” has been used routinely in our culture to the point that it now lacks the meaning that philosophers imply when they use the term. For example, he referenced the former slogan of Sears: “The Good Life at a Great Price.”

“This leads you to believe the Good Life can be purchased,” Dallas stated. “But this is not the case. The Good Life is not a commodity that is attained by human work.” The Good Life is something we obtain by discovering the truth. John of the New Testament tells us ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.’ “That is the Good Life,” Dallas explained. “Life in the Kingdom of God where there is no fear and a complete hope for an eternal future.”

The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes- a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power.

— Dallas Willard

Go to Part 3 >>

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