Now that the STPM (and school) is over, I am able to return to my books. Still haven't finished Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy. It's pretty heavy reading (by heavy I mean that it provides much food for thought, not necessarily that it is technical), requiring breaks in between so that the tough stuff can sink in.
Today as I read the passage on honouring our parents, this paragraph struck me:
You must find the goodness of God and the fellowship of Jesus in who you are, or your love for the Father and his unique Son cannot become the foundation for a life of abundance/obedience. They desire to dwell with you in your life and make glorious every aspect of it in the light of the whole that God has planned.
Willard emphasises that if we love God, we must believe that He has made us the way we were meant to be, i.e. that we are not errors in His creation. And if we believe that God has 'done well' by us (in Willard's words), then it follows that we must thank God for our parents and honour them, for we would not be who we are if not for our parents.
So often I have heard it said that we find ourselves in God, that our identity is discovered in who He is, that He defines us and gives purpose to our lives. While I believe this is true, I also believe Willard points out the other side of the story which must not be ignored: we must strive to find God in our lives, that our identity may be discovered in who He is in us, that we may come to understand that He defines us in context of who we are.
Ultimately, this talk about finding ourselves in God is not about abandoning who we are and ditching our families; it's about coming to a realisation that God is at work in our lives and our families: God is at work in the very web into which we were born. That's what 'incarnation' means -- to be a living presence. Perhaps this is a thought worth considering even during this season of Advent/Christmas.
Finally, on page 334, the words 'divine conspiracy' appear. (I don't recall seeing it anywhere earlier in the book, but I might have forgotten, so please leave a comment below if I'm wrong.)
"I am bought by the sufferings and death of Jesus and I belong to God. The divine conspiracy of which I am a part stands over human history in the form of a cross."
(U2's new song, 'Window in the Skies' is really fantastic; I can't get it out of my head! The single will be released early next year.)