Read an Excerpt
The Divine Conspiracy Participant's Guide
By Dallas Willard, Kevin Harney, Sherry Harney
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2010 Dallas Willard
All rights reserved.
THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY
God is at work doing something very big in this world ... but it often goes unnoticed. We get glimpses of this "Divine Conspiracy" and hear the whisper of Jesus inviting us to enter in. The choice is up to us.
The divine conspiracy is breaking into human history. It comes not with an eardrum-splitting crash, but as a gentle whisper. The message is simple, but absolutely life changing. God's kingdom is not just coming ... it is here, in our midst. If we listen closely and follow the invitation to be part of this work of God in the world, our lives will never be the same.
There are signs and indicators that the divine conspiracy is at work in our midst and that we are entering into it.
God longs to entrust his presence and power in the lives of ordinary human beings. To do this, he must grow character within us and often this is forged in the fires of adversity, pain, and loss. Is God growing your character through the tough times of life? The kingdom is near!
The gospel is more than an offer of cleansing from personal sin or a battle against injustice in this world. It is about the way we live life today. Grace not only cleanses us, but it is the fuel that propels us forward as we bring the presence and love of God into the world each day. As we live for Jesus and bring his love to the world, the kingdom is near.
God is more aware of the pain in this world than we are. Yet, he is a God of joy and overflows with happiness. When his joy is in us and we let it resonate wherever we go, the kingdom of God is near.
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"Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand" (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7). This is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus, have the option of living within the surrounding movements of God's eternal purposes, of taking our life into his life.
TALK ABOUT IT
Jesus calls himself our "Friend," but he is also our teacher (Rabbi). Tell about one way Jesus has become your teacher and how you are growing as his student. What practical things can we include in a normal day that help us become a more teachable student of Jesus?
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To trust the real person Jesus is to have confidence in him in every dimension of our real life, to believe that he is right about and adequate to everything.
VIDEO TEACHING NOTES
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, featuring John Ortberg's conversation with Dallas Willard, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
The meaning of "divine conspiracy"
The importance of character
Understanding "the gospel"
God is present with human beings now
Becoming a student or apprentice of Jesus Christ
The good news of Jesus contrasted to the gospel of sin management
A fresh understanding of grace
God as Father
The happiness of God
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In the Gospels, "the gospel" is the good news of the presence and availability of life in the kingdom, now and forever, through reliance on Jesus the Anointed.
1. What is an example of something God is doing in the world, but many people don't notice or realize it?
2. Dallas Willard believes that God might allow hard things in this life so that he can develop character in his children. How have you seen life's tough times and painful circumstances grow character in yourself or in others and draw you/them closer to Jesus?
3. Willard suggests that God wants to develop character in people so that he can trust them with his power. What are some possible consequences when a person has power but does not have character shaped by God?
4. Read: Matthew 6:25–34. What does it mean to "seek first his kingdom"? When you are really seeking God's kingdom first, what kinds of attitudes and actions rise to the surface in your life?
* * *
God's own "kingdom," or "rule," is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done.
5. Willard says that one of the keys to becoming an apprentice and student of Jesus is to "think well enough of Jesus to trust him." How can this impact how we walk through life?
6. The gospel of sin management is all about what to do with sin. For some, it is about what we do about our personal sin. For others, it is what we do about structural evils such as injustice and poverty. How have you seen both of these approaches to sin management in the lives of believers?
Another way to look at the good news of Jesus is to ask not only the question, "What do we do about sin?" but "What do we do about life?" How might our approach to Jesus and the gospel be transformed if we spent more time asking the latter?
* * *
History has brought us to the point where the Chris tian message is thought to be essentially concerned only with how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is now presented as the heart of the Chris tian message, or it is included only marginally.
7. Willard defines grace as "God's action in our lives to help us do what we can't do on our own." When you think of grace, what comes to mind? How does Willard's explanation of grace include the forgiveness of sins, but take us even further?
8. Willard suggests the best way to think of God is as a father. How do you respond to this invitation?
In an ideal world, what should a healthy father do, and how could this mirror what God desires to do for his children?
9. Read: Genesis 1:29–31. What are examples of the joy and happiness of God that we see throughout the Bible?
10. What have you learned in your journey through life that helps you continue to grow in happiness even when things are painful and difficult?
Take time as a group to pray in some of the following directions:
Thank God for his happiness and ask for him to let this same joy dwell in you and flow from you to others.
Ask the Holy Spirit to open your ears to hear the whispers of the kingdom and the message of the divine conspiracy.
Praise God for those moments when the beauty of his creation reminds you of his presence and activity in the world.
Surrender your life, time, mind, and passions to God and ask him to use you in his divine conspiracy.
Excerpted from The Divine Conspiracy Participant's Guide by Dallas Willard. Copyright © 2010 by Dallas Willard. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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