This post is by Sabeth Kapahu.
We can practice all the spiritual disciplines, apply our therapist’s advice, and produce better results for those we help, but can we do all of these without ever having loved? Have we experienced transformational attachment to Christ, or are we just practicing disciplines to get by? These are some underlying themes of Renovated: God, Dallas Willard, & the Church that Transforms by Jim Wilder. Renovated shares the stories of friendship between and teachings of Dallas Willard and Jim Wilder, combined with real testimonies of church members, leaders, and CEO’s working through The Life Model Works programs. Wilder discusses theology, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, church history and culture as it relates to spiritual disciplines and relational skills. He encourages readers to explore what happens when people learn the character of Christ the way the brain learns character. This book is a rendering of his devotion to growing “relationally healthy disciples of Jesus and making our churches resistant to disorders that develop around weak spiritual character immaturity.”
“Whether one spontaneously responds to one’s enemies with love,” is how Wilder describes Dallas Willard’s main test for Christ-Like Character. It is a beautiful reminder that life is about relationships, the ones we choose and the ones we don’t. They are personal and specific, but culture (even church culture) would tell us that they patterned, need based, and disengaged. Wilder writes, “Our personal and group identities must not grow rigid so we practice spiritual disciplines. Our means of discipleship training nurture our full brain, heart, and soul.”
Many know Dallas Willard as the author of “Hearing God,” and many other books promoting spiritual disciplines and exploring ways to become aware of God’s presence. In Renovated, Wilder, a close friend of Willard's, describes the work they did together, bridging the gap between the science of character formation and the practice of spiritual disciplines. Readers get a birds eye view of their conversations addressing the reality that “perhaps spiritual and emotional maturity are one thing, not two different issues.”
In the Old Testament there are over 200 times that God is described as devoted, faithful, and unchanging in His love. As Christ followers today we like to think we change by what we believe and will ourselves to do. But what if we are changed by what we attach to? We know we need to love God and love others but how do we develop attachment love, the kind that is like his: devoted, faithful, and unchanging? It’s hard to remember in our age of social media and world wide shallow connection, but attachment to good people doesn’t enhance our attachment to God, or help us develop good character.
This book winds the thread of unity between neuroscience and theology. Wilder writes in detail about the transformation that is possible if we “focused less on changing our beliefs or choices and more on building attachment and love with God and people.” Even diligent Christians get disappointed with spiritual disciplines. Perhaps this is because we have not addressed our need for love that attaches and identifies with God and one another, rather than the likes and numbers reflected in social email. This cannot be achieved just through practice; it has to be built upon resilient relationships.
As a generation we have inherited an innately transactional execution of faith lived out in works. But as the pendulum continues to swing we are finding a new generation in need of more than a set of rules to follow. They need a relationship to build upon. Wilder says it is through the understanding of our human need for attachment that we can come to a transformational love for the people God has given us to experience life with.
Renovated spoke to the desires of my soul that long for transformative connection with God and others. It addressed why there have been seasons when God Time felt more like an obligation than a life-giving routine. As we seek to make time with God as part of our mornings (and days) this book helps to solidify why. God desires to be with us, not just to do things for us. He desires wholeness for our hearts and the communities we journey within. He knows how complicated human relationships become and has given us everything we need to proceed together towards joy. But joy does not come without time spent together, and that is what God Time (and Renovated) is all about.
Sabeth Kapahu is an entrepreneur with a passion for encouraging people. She is a versatile coach, fluid social media strategist, and community initiative developer. She is a wife, mom of four, and friend to many. She is also the host of Stimulate: a summit for wives to increase spiritual, relational, and physical stamina in marriage. For more details click the link: https://mailchi.mp/56f037dafaba/stimulate
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