In my post last night I wrote:
At times I struggle because I have chosen to put my family ahead of my career. At times I find myself wondering what might have been if I had made career advancement my goal. Tonight I had no struggles, but instead gratitude. Gratitude that I could share the adventure, share my heart, and share the love of God’s Son with my son.
Today I stopped to grab a bagel for lunch and read a few pages in “Renovation of the Heart.” I hope I can communicate to you the connection between what I wrote last night and the words of Willard I read today.
Regarding ideas, Dallas Willard wrote:
Ideas are very general models of or assumptions about reality. They are patterns of interpretation, historically developed and socially shared. They sometimes are involved with beliefs, but are much more than belief and do not depend upon it. They are ways of thinking about and interpreting things. They are so pervasive and essential to how we think about and how we approach life that we often do not even know they are there or understand when and how they are at work. Our idea system is a cultural artifact, growing up with us from earliest childhood out of the teachings, expectations, and observable behaviors of family and community. . . . it is extremely difficult for most people to recognize which ideas are governing their life and how those ideas are governing their life.
This is partly because one commonly identifies his or her own governing ideas with reality. . . . Another illustration of “idea grip” would be how most people think of success in life in terms of promotions and possessions. One’s culture is seen most clearly in what one thinks of as “natural” and as requiring no explanation or even thought.
It is this particular “idea grip” that still has a grasp on me. And I do think that what ideas are seen by most as “natural” define the true reality of our culture. We currrently live in a cultural that places a heavy emphasis on job titles, promotions, responsibilities and the like. We judge people by the job/career that they have and by the possessions they have accumulated – the house, car, boat, lake home, furnishings, artwork, etc.
Yet when I spend time pondering the teachings of Jesus, he places no importance in these ideas. And instead I find that the ideas which he promulgates are seen as “unnatural” within our cultural setting. And so today I realized that my subconscious is the midst of a battle of ideas. A battle between the prevailing cultures definition of success, and Christ’s definition of success. Which idea will win? The one that I feed. And that is why I am reading Renovation of the Heart.
Now, the simplicity of spiritual formation lies in its intention. Its aim is to bring every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God and the kingdom of God. This is the simple focus. We must keep it constantly before us and not be distracted by other things, no matter how good they may appear. (Willard)
On to the (spiritual) journey.