Recently I’ve been reading through the works of Dallas Willard. In fact, rather than reading them a better term is that I’ve been devouring them.
It’s the excitement that comes from having thought for years about the spirituality concepts he writes about, and then finding an expert has gone before you, putting a lifetime of thought into the areas you were just beginning to explore. It’s like having done my time at the shallow end, I’ve now been catapulted into the deep end of the swimming pool!
One phrase he uses, and which I now find myself taking up, is the Magnificent Five. Willard uses this term to describe what he sees as the five core Christian virtues that we should all be growing in as we become more Christ-like; faith, hope, love, joy and peace.
These come from a combination of the faith, hope and love described by Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, and the first qualities of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5. For Willard, these five qualities are the Magnificent Five that are each related to each other, and that together describe Christian maturity.
Faith: The building block of all Christian spirituality and maturity is faith in Christ.
Hope: And faith leads us to hope, since we trust that God will do all He has promised.
Love: The goal for Paul and Peter of Christian maturity is love. “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6), “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (1 Peter 1:5-6).
Joy: Living out faith in God and love for all people should lead to a life filled with joy.
Peace: FF Bruce famously said “peace is joy resting, and joy is peace dancing.”
How are you growing in the Magnificent Five? What practices can you incorporate into your life that will help you to mature in each of them?
Mark Williamson works as a director of One Rock. He’s an experienced leadership trainer, author of biographies on John Wesley and William Wilberforce, and is also passionate about praying for London. He enjoys good films, good food, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna. You can follow him on Twitter @markonerock.