"The most telling thing about the contemporary Christian," Willard writes, "is that he or she has no compelling sense that understanding of and conformity with the clear teachings of Christ is of any vital importance to [their] life, and certainly not that it is in any way essential . . . Such obedience is regarded as just out of the question or impossible." Christians, he says, for the most part consider the primary function of Christianity to be admittance to heaven. But, as Willard clearly shows, a faith that guarantees a satisfactory afterlife, yet has absolutely no impact on life in the here and now, is nothing more than "consumer Christianity" and "bumper-sticker faith."
Willard refutes this "fire escape" mentality by exploring the true nature of the teachings of Jesus, who intended that His followers become His disciples, and taught that we have access now to the life we are only too eager to relegate to the hereafter. The author calls us into a more authentic faith and offers a practical plan by which we can become Christ-like. He challenges us to step aside from the politics and pieties of contemporary Christian practice and inspires us to reject the all too common lukewarm faith of our times by embracing the true meaning of Christian discipleship.
"My hope is to gain a fresh hearing for Jesus, especially among those who believe they already understand him. Very few people today find Jesus interesting as a person or of vital relevance to the course of their actual lives. He is not generally regarded as a real life personality who deals with real-life issues, but is thought to be concerned with some feathery realm other than the one we must deal with, and must deal with now."...Continua
"[A]ctual discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus is, in our day, no longer thought of as in any way essential to faith in him. It is regarded as a costly option, a spiritual luxury, or possibly even as an evasion. Why bother with discipleship, it is widely thought, or, for that matter, with a conversational relationship with God? Let us get on with what we have to do."
"This book, then, presents discipleship to Jesus as the very heart of the gospel. The eternal life that begins with confidence in Jesus is a life in His present kingdom, now on earth and available to all. So the message of and about him is specifically a gospel for our life now, not just for dying. It is about living now as his apprentice in kingdom living, not just as a consumer of his merits. Our future, however far we look, is a natural extension of the faith by which we live now and the life in which we now participate."
-- from The Divine Conspiracy