Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life in the Kingdom of God

Today is not a normal day. Dallas A. Willard, the most brilliant yet most humble man I've ever known, died today.

A photo of Dallas I snapped last June

You've probably heard of Dallas.  If you've spent any time around me, you've heard about him.  You've heard his words quoted.  Perhaps you know him as the author of The Divine Conspiracy, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, or Renovation of the Heart.  Heck, if you've been around me for long, I've probably given you a copy of one of his books.

One thing's for sure: if you know anything about Dallas, you know that he didn't just live his life for God.  He lived his life with God.

And he's still living it.

Dallas has no more need of his human body.  It was the battery-pack that powered his spirit.  He liked to say that we are all "unceasing spiritual beings in God's great universe."  And though his body has ceased to function, Dallas surely lives.

Lots of people have said, "He's with Jesus now."  And that's true; he's with the Lord face-to-face now.  But Dallas has been with Jesus for a long time now.  He understood that Jesus made available to all of us the opportunity to live in the Kingdom of God--right here, right now, right on this earth.  Dallas understood like few others that "those who live in reliance upon the word and person of Jesus, and know by experience the reality of his kingdom, are always better off 'dead,' from the personal point of view.  Paul's language is, 'to die is gain' (Philippians 1:21).  And again: 'To depart and be with Christ is very much better' than to remain here (v. 23).  We remain willing, of course, to stay at our position here to serve others at God's appointment. But we live in the knowledge that, as Paul elsewhere said, 'Jesus the Anointed has abolished death and has, through the gospel, made life and immortality obvious' (2 Timothy 1:10)" (The Divine Conspiracy, p. 394).

As I was thinking today about Dallas's life and work, I was embarrassed for a moment that I blog about such little things as homemaking and cooking and decorating.  I found myself wishing that I devoted all my space at Imparting Grace to weightier matters.

But then I heard Dallas's gentle voice, reminding me that Jesus offers me the opportunity to live in the Kingdom of God.  I alone have the opportunity to bring my own little kingdom (or queendom, if you like)--the range of my effective will--under the authority of God's Kingdom. And that changes things.   

So I devote myself to writing and speaking and deeply spiritual matters--but I also make a home for my family.  I cook.  I decorate.  I do a million things that often seem to be inconsequential, but they all go together to make my life--a life lived in the Kingdom of God, consecrated to God, and for the glory of God.

I won't lend you my copy of Renovation of the Heart--but you should read it.

I seek to live my life as Jesus would live it if He were I.  Not the life of someone else, but my life.  A life deeply enriched by knowing Dallas Willard--and the God he serves.  The One who reminds me, 

"Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17).  


susan@avintagefarmwife said...

What a beautiful tribute! I have heard of some of his book titles and now I want to check them out. This reminds me that we are already living in eternity! Isn't that the coolest thing? Praise Jesus!

Elizabeth Day said...

I am so sorry for your personal loss of this great man of God, but know from your beautiful tribute that his influence will never be lost. Thank you for sharing this with us. I think often that my little simple blog is so spiritually shallow, but I do pray that The Lord will be able to use it and me for His Glory.

Mary Anne said...

"Lots of people have said, "He's with Jesus now." And that's true; he's with the Lord face-to-face now. But Dallas has been with Jesus for a long time now. He understood that Jesus made available to all of us the opportunity to live in the Kingdom of God--right here, right now, right on this earth." What a wonderful tribute to a life that one statement makes! I have to check out his books now.

Lisa~ said...

I'm so sorry for his loss and so happy for his homecoming! It's a mixed bag of feelings isn't it? Beautiful post! Lisa~

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Having such a wonderful man of God to be in your life and influence you in such a profound way is the most wonderful gift ever. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Your tribute is very special and uplifting. Hugs, Marty

Anonymous said...

A loving tribute. I did a little research in order to get some of his books. I found this quote, "Grace is not opposed to effort {which is action}, but to earning {which is attitude}". I look forward to reading his books. I know you'll miss your friend.

Karmen said...

What lovely words for a man of God. Sorry for your loss.

Patti@OldThingsNew said...

You are so fortunate to have known such a man of God personally. It is hard to lose our spiritual leaders but so good to know that we'll all rejoice together one day. Blessings to you dear Richella, Patti


Sweet tribute.


Anonymous said...

I just saw your post on Pinterest. The Spirit of the Disciplines is one of my FAVORITE books that I always feel that I can refer to! I did not know about the life of the person behind this great teaching, but it explains why I cherish it so. To God be the glory for another life that represented Him.

Anonymous said...

I just came across your post. The Spirit of the Disciplines is one of my most favorite books that I from time to time seem to refer to. I did not know about the life of the man who was responsible for sharing this teaching, but it explains why I cherish it so. To God be the glory for a life that represented Him.

Steve Finnell said...


There are some who deny water baptism is essential to the forgiveness of sins, by debating the clear meaning of "born of water" found in John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The primary debating point is that born of water refers to natural child birth. Was Jesus telling Nicodemus that one of requirements to enter the kingdom of God, was that he had to exist? That makes no sense. It is obvious if you were never born you could not enter the kingdom of God.

To suggest that "water" in (John 3:5) means embryonic fluid, is at best an unreasonable conclusion.

Jesus said you have to born again to enter the kingdom of God. Being born of flesh the first time is not being born again. Again never means the first time!

When the apostles were preaching the gospel, did they say, in order to enter the kingdom of God, you have to physically exist; that is, you must have been born of embryonic fluid (water)? No they did not.

Jesus said "unless one is born of water he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:5) Jesus said "has been baptized shall be saved."(Mark 16:16)


Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,(The AND cannot be ignored)

WATER BAPTISM: washing of regeneration.
SPIRIT: renewing by the Holy Spirit.
NOTE: It is God our Savior that saves us.(Titus 3:4)

Acts 2:38 baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

WATER BAPTISM: for forgiveness of sins.
SPIRIT: receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


The only way to not understand that Jesus meant water baptism in John 3:5, is by using extra-Biblical sources.


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