I just finished reading Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ by Dallas Willard. This book is both deep and practical. The central point of this book is that it is possible and necessary for us to be transformed in a way such that we become more and more Christ-like and that there are steps that we can take to help bring that about. The message is helpful and positive.. this isn’t a book to make you feel guilty for not doing enough.
One of the issues he raises is the fact that in the church we usually don’t actually expect people to grow to become more Christ-like. Instead, we focus on following our religious rituals and try to avoid some of the more blatant sins. Many of us don’t really believe that it is actually possible to live the sort of life that the Bible describes. People can remain selfish, proud, and bitter for years and it does not seem unusual. No wonder the world is not impressed.
This book is a helpful wake up call to the church. It is possible to become more Christ-like, and there is something that you can do to bring it about. This is a hopeful message to all who cry out “Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.” (p. 22)
Willard calls us to become part of a world wide revolution of character. What would it look like if a community of believers actually lived their lives according to the pattern laid out in the Bible? Gandhi is quoted as saying that if only Christians would live according to their belief in the teachings of Jesus, “we all would become Christians.”
There is so much I could say about this book… maybe I’ll write more later. Willard is a professor in the philosophy department at USC, but don’t let that scare you away. He gives an excellent description of the different aspects of a person and how they work together in the process of transformation. If you are a new Christian or this book seems a little intimidating then I suggest that you first read The Life You’ve Always Wanted. The author, John Ortberg, is heavily influenced by Willard, and he says in the preface that the title he originally suggested to the publisher was “Dallas for Dummies.”