The result of not practicing rigorously for the spiritual life, on the other hand, also speaks for itself. Who are the great ones in The Way, what are the significant movements in the history of the church that do not bear the deep and pervasive imprint of the disciplines for the spiritual life? If there are none, what leads us to believe that we might be an exception to the rule and might know the power of the Kingdom of life without the appropriate disciplines? How could we be justified in doing anything less than practicing and teaching the disciplines Jesus Christ himself and the best of his followers found necessary?
It is easy to praise the great ones now passed on, because we can in their absence disregard the concrete reality of their practices. When those same practices are brought to life in someone walking next to us, we reach for stones to throw, just as Jesus said in Matthew 2:3. Why did they respond that way? Such persons reveal us for who we are. They expose our profession of being one with Christ without living as he lived, and their presence insists that we truly change and enter the Kingdom.
From The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. Copyright © 1988 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.