The last command Jesus gave the church before he ascended to heaven was the Great Commission, the call for Christians to "make disciples of all the nations." But Christians have responded by making "Christians," not "disciples." This has been the church's Great Omission.
The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it. We cannot be Christians without being disciples, and we cannot call ourselves Christians without applying this understanding of life in the Kingdom of God to every aspect of life on earth.
This book calls believers to restore what should be the heart of Christianity—being active disciples of Jesus Christ. In the school of life, we are apprentices of the Teacher whose brilliance encourages us to rise above traditional church understanding and embrace the true meaning of discipleship—an active, concrete, 24/7 life with Jesus.
In his latest endeavor, Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) presents all Christians with a call to action, with a chief premise that all too often they neglect the latter part of Jesus's "Great Commission," in which he directed his followers to go into all nations and "make disciples" of people. According to Willard, the fact that "discipleship is optional" in today's churches and Christian institutions is a travesty. In a straightforward and thoughtful way, he argues that discipleship and spiritual formation are in some way mandatory for anyone who professes to be a Christian ("We could never credibly claim to trust a doctor whose instructions we would not follow"). Only when following Jesus's instructions becomes their fundamental goal, he professes, will Christians live abundant and fulfilled lives. All in all, this book makes for engaging reading for any Christian who aspires to lead a more spiritual life. Although certain passages may upset some readers (e.g., apathetic Christians are often given a scolding), Willard speaks his truth in such an eloquent, passionate, and powerful way that one can't help but be moved to action. Recommended for all libraries.
– Wesley A. Mills, Empire State Coll. SUNY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
(San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006) 237 pp, ISBN: 0060882433.
Section I: Apprenticed to Jesus
Chapter 1: Discipleship: For Super Christians Only?
Chapter 2: Why Bother With Discipleship?
Chapter 3: Who Is Your Teacher?
Chapter 4: Looking Like Jesus
Chapter 5: The Key to the Keys of the Kingdom
Section II: Spiritual Formation and Development of Character
Chapter 6: Spiritual Formation in Christ Is for the Whole Life and the Whole Person
Chapter 7: Spiritual Formation in Christ: A Perspective on What It Is And How It Might Be Done
Chapter 8: The Spirit Is Willing, But… The Body as a Tool for Spiritual Growth
Chapter 9: Living in the Vision of God
Chapter 10: Idaho Springs Inquiries Concerning Spiritual Formation
Chapter 11: Personal Soul Care: For Ministers…And Others
Section III: Discipleship of the Soul and the Mind
Chapter 12: Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, And The Restoration Of The Soul
Chapter 13: Christ-Centered Piety
Chapter 14: Why?
Chapter 15: Jesus the Logician
Section IV: Books on Spiritual Living -Visions and Practices
Chapter 16: Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach
Chapter 17: The Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila
Chapter 18: Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
Chapter 19: When God Moves In: My Experience with Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians
Chapter 20: A Room of Marvels by James B. Smith
A Parting Word: "As You Go…"