Dallas Willard is one of my all-time favorite authors, though I suppose any author in the top 1/4 of my list could be assume to be one of my all-time favorites!
Recently I have thought long about how many Christians appear to want Jesus for essentially selfish reasons. We like the idea of going to heaven when we die and forgiveness of sins here on earth. Being among a group of the “saved”, feeling identified with our understanding of who God favors, is nice. But then when it comes to life in the real world, well, Jesus just isn’t relevant.
I mean, no one will actually say that!* But if we look at how people talk, this is what it seems. Jesus is nice for spiritual things, but success in the real world is more about survival of the fittest or having power.
Willard would call this “vampire Christianity”. I could not find the quote in The Divine Conspiracy, but here it is from another of his books, The Great Omission:
“This ‘heresy’ has created the impression that it is quite reasonable to be a ‘vampire Christian.’ One in effect says to Jesus, ‘I’d like a little of your blood, please. But I don’t care to be your student or have your character. In fact, won’t you just excuse me while I get on with my life, and I’ll see you in heaven.’ But can we really imagine that this is an approach that Jesus finds acceptable?”
Willard is one of those authors whose works have consistently challenged me. I am listing The Divine Conspiracy here as my 23rd favorite book, and it is probably his most popular and perhaps even a Christian classic. But there is much depth in The Spirit of the Disciplines, The Great Omission, Renovation of the Heart and more. Throughout these books, Willard strikes similar themes, calling readers to not just believe in Jesus but to build a life of habits that conform our character to his.
*Note – I am pretty sure people on Twitter WILL say this.