…the modern church seems unable to learn from the Christian past or from the Bible itself how to foster a true "growth in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."»? We simply seem not to see what was in fact done by Jesus himself, as well as by those who at his invitation rose up to seize and enter into the Kingdom of God…We are somehow blind to the information that should guide us.»? It’s invisible and just does not fall within our mental horizons.»? This peculiar blindness causes us to reject from our lives what Jesus and Paul actually did, what they chose to live through or experience.
"Reject" is not too strong a term, but it is not quite accurate.»? To reject something, one must first consider or analyze it.»? But the details of Jesus’ and Paul’s daily lives, as opposed to their commands or instructions, we don’t seem to consider, so we don’t feel called to accept or reject them.»? Such details somehow are irrelevent [sic] to any actual choices we have to make.»? So we say, "What does the long period of fasting and solitude that Jesus entered after his baptism have to do with us?»? We aren’t Jesus, are we?»? And Paul’s forceful subjugation of his body may have been necessary for his work, but I am doing quite well without it, you see."
What happens, then, is that all talk of following Jesus—or of Paul’s example of following him—is emptied of practical meaning.»? It does not express an actual strategy of living our day-to-day existence, but at most concerns only certain special moments or articles of faith.»? This in turn makes it impossible for us to share their experiences and consistently carry through with behavior like theirs.»? That behavior rested, after all, upon their experiences.»? And the experiences in turn resulted from how they arranged their lives.»? Since we do not share their behaviors, we are left with much talk about them and an occasional application of some of their language to our experience.»? The only way to overcome this alienation from their sort of life is by entering into the actual practices of Jesus and Paul as something essential to our life in Christ.»? (Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 97)
This is the point that Willard has been pushing throughout the book so far: the spiritual disciplines are essential to our lives because they were essential to Jesus’ life.»? If we are to be Christ-like, intellectual assent to a handful of points of doctrine or making Christ-like decisions, for example, isn’t going to be enough.»? We must live as he lived every day, behind the scenes.