I’d like to recommend a fantastic book I just finished reading by Dallas Willard. Willard was a Christian philosopher who wrote and spoke extensively on spiritual identity, formation, and discipleship. He passed away in 2013, but His books will continue to leave a permanent imprint on his readers and on Christian culture. The title of the book is The Great Omission, a play on the term Great Commission, when Jesus commissioned his followers to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. Willard’s point is that we in the church have told people about Christ and asked them to follow Him, but we have omitted to provide the training they need to follow.
Something Willard states repeatedly is that to be a disciple is to live your life as Christ would live it if He were you. Doesn’t that give you something to think about? In fact, This is the standard to which the Apostle Paul held himself, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh I live through faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Note, Paul says: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” He is saying that he lives his life as Christ would live it. The beautiful thing is that if you are a Christian you have the Holy Spirit within you to help you make that happen.
Willard also states, “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.” Then he suggests a list of disciplines one can practice to grow closer to Christ. Some of them include: prayer, fasting, solitude, service, worship, journaling, fellowship, and Scripture memorization. The disciplines do not earn salvation or high favor with God. They help us practice being more like Him by focusing our eyes on Him. God works in a heart that is fully devoted to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
I love The Great Omission because it addresses how the heart is the key to becoming disciples of Christ. We follow because we love Him and want to know Him better. Willard understood that the more we turn our hearts toward Jesus, the more like Him we become. I hope you’ll check out the book!