Some of you will know the work of the author Dallas Willard. My first confession is that I haven’t read any of his books this far. I started reading Divine Conspiracy some time ago but never got anywhere. He isn’t easy to read, even for seasoned readers. I do, however, want to begin getting to grips with one of his books ‘The Renovation of the Heart.’ I have managed to find a book called ‘Renovation of the Character’ which Willard wrote with someone else, which is a distilled version of the previous book. Maybe a good place to start.
The phrase, ‘Renvation of the Heart’ is one that God has placed into my mind over these last months. Part of that is to do with my own desire to take some serious spiritual rebooting, focussing on recalibrating around Jesus. But it has come not only as a response to my desire, but an answer to prayer on leading, shaping and guiding mission.
I ask a lot of questions: why is the church like this? why have we lost our sense of mission? why are we bound in institutions? God, what are you doing about this? Lord, what do you want me to do? Where do we go from here? why have you called me at this time to this place? and for what purpose? …and the answer to all of those has been ‘the renovation of the heart.’
The desire for mission and missional living will only flow from a heart that touches the heart of God and that pulses with all that God desires. I believe that God is calling his people to look at him again and to follow him, not just to worship Him. He wants our obedienace and allegience as much as our adoration. To follow Jesus is to do what he says. “If you love me, you will do what I command.” (John 14:15) When we are in tune with the rhythms of Jesus, we will feel compelled to do what he asks of us. Here is a little example:
“1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. 7Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. 9Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’ 10But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.'”