The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - My Book Notes - Part 6 - Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputation and Wealth

Welcome to part  6 of my blog series on Dallas Willard's book "The Divine Conspiracy". Please look at the chapter list to move between the other parts of this series.

What I learnt From This Chapter

This chapter was so challenging to me. I care a lot about what others think of me. I found the most relevant part to be starting from a place trusting God in this area. Trusting God with regards to what others think of me. Equally the call to fast is something that constantly challenges me. I try to fast twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays but I often fall short of this goal (food tastes so good!!!) and so reading this draws me back into that desire to fast. Reading this changed my view on fasting from a  discipline of deprivation to a discipline of strength and upholding.

Chapter List

Chapter 1 - Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now
Chapter 2 - Gospels of Sin Management
Chapter 3 - What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World
Chapter 4 - Who is Really Well Off? - The Beatitudes
Chapter 5 - The Righteousness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees
Chapter 6 - Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputations and Wealth
Chapter 7 - The Community of Prayerful Love
Chapter 8 - On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus
Chapter 9 - A Curriculum for Christlikeness
Chapter 10 - The Restoration of all Things

Chapter 6 - Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deception of Reputation and Wealth

Jesus alerts us to the two main things that will block or hinder a life constantly interacting with God and healthy growth in the kingdom:
  1. The desire to have the approval of others, especially for being devout.
  2. The desire to secure ourselves by means of material wealth.
These will pull us out of the sway of the kingdom (the range of God's effective will).

We need to keep these in place by a reliance on God.

The Respectability Trap

Much that passes as normal is still not right with regards to respectability.

Playing for the Audience of One

The form can be wrong and the heart right. The form can be right and the heart wrong.

Not "do we look at someone and sexually desire them", but "do we look at someone in order to sexually desire them".

Not "are we doing a good deed and being seen", but "are we doing a good deed in order to be seen".

Os Guinness on the puritans - they lived as if they were living for an audience of one.

Don't Let the Left Hand Know

3 illustrations (not laws!!!)

1 - Giving Alms.

Hypocrite - refers to actor, but also anyone who practices deceit.

It was Jesus who brought this word to bear upon morality - due to his emphasis on the heart.

There was a theatre in Sepphoris, a few miles from Nazareth - built when Jesus was a young man (also theatres in Jericho, Samaria and Jerusalem).

(Equivalent today would be name on a building etc. rather than paying for the maintenance).

People in the kingdom do not even know what there left hand is doing - because goodness naturally flows from them.

And When You Pray

2 - Praying 

The secret place is where God is.

Prayer is the method of genuine theological research - of understanding what and who God is.

God is spirit and exists at the level of reality where our spirit is.

Serving as foundation and source of life.

There we meet with God in spirit and truth.

1 Corinthians 2:15 - the spiritual person is understood by no-one.

Kingdom praying is the matter of our hearts being open and honest before God. A matter of what we are saying with our whole being. Moving into the flow of God's action.

One of the most important things we do.

He teaches us how to be in prayer what we are in life. And to be in life what we are in prayer.

In the Sermon on the Mount, we are not looking at laws, but looking at a life.

Fasting Before God Alone

3 - Fasting

When we have learned to fast in secret, our bodies and souls will be directly sustained by the invisible kingdom.

We will not be miserable, but we will be different. With strength and joy from sources in secret.

Manna as One Kind of Word of God

Normal food is God appointed normal source (why Jesus ate normal food).

The birth from above is a new reality.

Lack of confidence in the kingdom causes us to choose the "pretty words" version of scripture.

Feasting On Jesus Himself

He is the bread which comes down through heaven.

Rule of St. Benedict tells us to love fasting.

Secrecy as a Fundamental Discipline

To be free from the control of others (to be enslaved to people's eyes).

Our respect is reserved for God alone.

Discipline - activity in our power that we do to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort.

Do good stuff where no-one knows.

Religious Evasion

Law of religious evasion - we create churches to evade God.

We must not have human approval as a major aim. We must lovingly allow people to think whatever they will.

We can only serve them by serving the Lord only.

The Bondage of Wealth - Where Your Treasure Is

Must treasure God above all else.

Treasure is to do with the fundamental structure of the soul. Whether the life we live now will be an eternal one or not.

Beyond Moths, Corrosion, and Thieves

Direct your actions towards making a difference in the spiritual realm (invest your life in doing what God is doing) - i.e. our relationship with Christ and the good of other people.

The Lords portion is his people.

Also creation falls into this category.

Life Organises Itself Around Our Heart

Eye is the lamp of the body - when we see then our whole body can be directed.

If the eye of your soul is not functioning then you are in the dark about everything.

Impossibility of Serving Both God and Earthly Goods

We cannot have two ultimate goals or points of reference for our actions.

The requirements conflict - to fulfil material desires leads against God.

This is why the 1st command is the 1st one.

The Treasures in the Heavens are Now

The treasure now is nothing less than God himself and the wonderful society of his kingdom now interwoven in my life.

Eternity is now on-going.

How Many Birds are You Worth

This world is a perfectly safe place to be (Psalm 23).

Placing our faith in Mammon causes anxiety and worry.

Children have no capacity to store up enough for themselves to survive. They must rely on others to provide.

Beauty is a beautiful soul that shines through.

"Little faiths" - an expression Jesus apparently invented.

Radiant beings of eternal value - people.

Provision has been made for us and our confidence has been confirmed by experience.

Top priority is placed in what God is doing!

In the World You Are Distressed

To not treasure worldly good is to be treated as someone who is crazy.

"The world will hate you".

Term "world" not same as creation - but to the established human order and worldview.

One who takes on Christ nature will have same problems as before, but with new problems from being an outsider.

Life is hard in this world for all people.
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