I am reading, for the third time, The Divine Conspiracy by former University of Southern California professor of philosophy Dallas Willard. Theologian Richard Foster has placed The Divine Conspiracy alongside the writings of Bonhoeffer, Wesley, Calvin, Luther, Aquinas, and Augustine. I would agree with Foster's assessment with this caveat: The Divine Conspiracy is much easier to read.
The premise of The Divine Conspiracy is that when the life of God enters the soul, a transformation occurs. Christianity is more than just believing certain facts about Jesus Christ; it is experiencing the life of God, an experience that transforms human existence.
Read aloud Dallas Willard's paraphrase of John 3:16:
God's care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique Son among us, so that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God himself."Those who count on him...." What a wonderful phrase. How many of us count on our work for a fulfilling life? How many of us count on peoples' opinions of us to avoid a futile and failing existence? And how many of us, when what we are counting on fails, turn to things that mask the pain of our futile existence? Human existence is all about a fruitless search for a meaningful, purposeful, significant and fulfilling life.
God's care for humanity was so great that he sent his unique son among us, that those who count on him might not lead a futile and failing existence, but have the undying life of God himself.
Ultimately, what each of us does with Christ will determine whether or not there is fulfillment in this life. As Dallas Willard puts it, you must go "nuts" about Jesus to experience the undying life of God. When we see Jesus as he is, we will either 'turn away or else shamelessly adore him.' The former group ends life's journey in futility and failure. The latter group experiences the life of God, and what a grand, meaningful life it is!
The Divine Conspiracy has again challenged me to realize that it serves no purpose to condemn those who give lip service to Jesus on Sundays and then struggle with substance abuse, addictions, and all sorts of internal painful behavior (anger, pride, bitterness, resentment, etc...) during the week. Real, soul-transforming help comes when we can identify the root problem and help others see it and respond to it.
The root problem? People are crazy about everything but Jesus. That path only leads to futile and failing existence.
The solution? The only way to experience the undying life of God himself and avoid a futile and failing existence is to go nuts about Jesus Christ.