In the final section of Dallas’ talk on Practicing the Presence of God, he makes the following remarks:
“You remember that before Adam and Even sinned, they were naked? But they didn’t know it. Why do you suppose they didn’t know it? You know, when you look at a light bulb when its turned on, you can’t see the bulb, can you? Why can’t you? It’s glowing. Light is coming through it. You know what the first three letters of glory spell? Glow—we are a people of glory.”
“Old preachers in our country used to say the word, ‘Glow-ry!’ You ever hear that? Glow-ry! And there is a strange wisdom in that. Now, we are to have a presence on us that is like that. Remember that Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration as he prayed, what happened to him? He began to glow. His clothing and His face became whiter than lightning. Now, you see, we think of that as abnormal but that’s meant to be normal. There is to be a presence on us that comes from our being in the presence of God and it evens flows out to others. [1:17:31]”
Later in his life, Dallas devoted the final chapter of Renovation of the Heart to the idea of Christians becoming “Children of Light.” During the taping for a talk on that book he offere the following reflections:
Now we can think about people for whom all of these dimensions have been transformed, and we can call them children of light. Remember Jesus not only said, “I am the light of the world.” He said, “You are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.”
When Jesus said, “I have come to give you life, abundant life,” this is what he meant. These are the children of light.
Listen to these words of Paul. “You were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. For the fruit of light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”
As you reflect on what it would be like to become transformed into a “Child of Light,” you may want to consider the following exercise.
Transforming Exercise: Becoming a Child of Light
According to Dallas Willard, the thoughts of a child of light are constantly on God—they have become “God-intoxicated.” (p. 218)
Pick a day this week and make a game out of seeing how often you can think about God. (Hint: Be creative in thinking of ways to remind yourself of this desire. Perhaps you will set your watch to “beep” every hour as a reminder to turn your thoughts to God. Maybe you will decide to pair each sip of coffee you take with thinking of God, or perhaps you will place an empty chair by your desk or kitchen sink to remind you of his presence.)
Do an examination of your emotions each time you sit down for a meal. Before taking the first bite, ask yourself how often you were aware of feeling deep love, peace, or joy during the preceding hours of the day. As part of a silent prayer before eating, ask God to intensify your awareness of his presence and his love for you as you experience the remainder of the day.
Write on an index card (that will fit into a pocket of your clothing), “My prayer is to will the will of God.” Each time you become aware of the card, slip it out of your pocket and pray those nine words.
Prepare a boxed lunch for a homeless person and deliver it to the first needy person you see—even if you have to drive to a homeless shelter.
Ask God for a specific and practical way for you to be a child of light in your family. They ask him to help you do just that.
In Ephesians 5:8-11 (NAS), the Apostle Paul writes, “You were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light (for the fruit of light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
In chapter twelve of Renovation of the HeartI,Dallas Willard defines spiritual formation in Christlikeness as becoming children of light—character transformation toward complete trustworthiness before God. This is important because it involves the health of our souls, and it is important because it is central to the purpose of human history—to bring forth an immense community of people (both sanctified and set apart) who will be able to govern with God (see Revelation 5:10).