35. The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard
Whatever the ultimate explanation of it, the most telling thing about the contemporary Christian is that he or she simply has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to his or her life, and certainly not that it is in any way essential. … More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity in the world today. . . . It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being. (introduction, p. xv)
. . . presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The really good news for humanity is that Jesus is now taking students in the master class of life. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in this present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits.
In The Divine Conspiracy, revered Christian philosopher and scholar Dallas Willard critiqued the church's obsession with "sin management" and revolutionized our understanding of true Christian discipleship. Jesus is not a remote savior, waiting to welcome us into heaven after we die, Willard argued. He is a dynamic living force, a leader and teacher to whom we apprentice ourselves to learn the sacred skills God wants us to embrace, and to fulfill His son's vision when Christ declared that the "kingdom of God has come."