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The Guidebook To Changing The World

Every major religion has a vision for a God-ruled world. One where the ideals of religion, as well as devotion, submission, and service to God are at the forefront. It’s a world where wise leaders lead as servants, where folks use God-breathed, faith-based practices to maintain order and grow a loving and vibrant community. It sounds great. Why has it never worked?

I stumbled on a goldmine of thoughts from chapter’s 9 through 11 in Dallas Willard’s book, The Spirit of The Disciplines. Taken to their end, it’s quite literally a guidebook to changing the world. I’ve listed several quotes from these chapters below to capture a snapshot of what’s necessary and what stops us. This is from a Christian perspective.

Willard writes:


…the discipline of service is even more important for Christians who find themselves in positions of influence, power, and leadership…. In Matt 20:25-28 we misunderstand this passage as instructions to become great. Rather, it’s a statement on how those who are great are to behave.

He goes on to dispel some myths…

The idealization of poverty is one of the most dangerous illusions of Christians in the modern world. Stewardship – which requires possessions and includes giving – is the true spiritual discipline in relation to wealth.

Willard then discusses servanthood…

But the ‘wise’ people will not be looking at themselves as ‘leaders’ actually…but aspects of their submission to servanthood.

In regards to these servants, Willard says..

Such people must rise up, and in union with Christ and his people everywhere, guide social, economic, and political processes so that conditions that cause [this mess can be met]….such men and women are the only ones who can effectively lead humankind to fulfill its ancient charge of supervision over the earth.

Pressing us, he adds…

Jesus did not send help. He came among us. He was victorious under our conditions of existence… There is no division between the secular and the sacred except what we have created. Holy people must stop going into ‘church work’…and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking….with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral or missionary work.

Like a guidebook for true transformation, Willard reminds us…

The only true ‘radical’ is one who proposes a different character and life for human beings.

As a force…

The real presence of Christ as a world-governing force will come solely as his called out people occupy their stations in the holiness and power characteristic of him, as they demonstrate to the world the way to live that is best in every respect.


Things will go right in human life and society only to the extent that a sufficient number of qualified people are adequately distributed and positioned to see to it that they go right. Justice cannot prevail until there are enough people properly equipped with Christ’s character and power, in something like the Mosaic distribution throughout society, who cooperatively and under God constantly see to it that the good is secured and that the right is done…. Only then will brotherhood, justice, well-being, and, consequently, peace prevail on earth.

Why it hasn’t worked yet…

Christianity has not only been ‘found difficult and left untried,’ it has rarely been closely enough approached by people even to be found difficult.

God’s people need to come out…

Behold, I stand at the [church] door and knock…it is to people in the church that Christ calls…. Christ is really out in the world, where we have not yet the courage to follow him fully… Christians alone have at their disposal the means to bring the world effectively under the rule of God.


But [Christian leaders] have failed to make disciples, in the New Testament sense of the term.

Next steps…

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

2000 years ago a Jewish carpenter changed jobs and became a Rabbi. He started a movement that’s still alive and well. It’s called Christianity. Most are familiar with the consumer brand. Few understand or have seen the Jesus brand.  All are invited to participate in the building of his kingdom.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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