R.C. and I met Frank Viola at a conference in 2009 and moved to Gainesville, FL, in 2010 to be a part of a church that he and Milt Rodriguez were planting. We both have been tremendously blessed by Frank’s ministry and were very appreciative when Frank was willing to answer some questions here on our blog today.
As we were going through Andrew Murray’s “Abide in Christ” last month, I realized that much of what I had learned in your course, Living by the Indwelling Life of Christ, were aspects of abiding. Why do you think there is so little talk or understanding of abiding or living by our indwelling Lord when it is so vital and fundamental to our christian life?
Today, the big push in evangelical Christianity is on making disciples. That’s great and I applaud it. However, “making disciples” is so often disconnected today from what a true disciple of Jesus is in the first place. The NT is unmistakably clear that a disciple is someone who is living by the life of Christ (Rom. 8; Gal 2:20).
The reason why this aspect, which makes up the core of New Testament revelation, is so rarely taught today is because the preachers and teachers who have celebrity status in evangelicalism today aren’t preaching it. (I suspect because they themselves aren’t familiar with it from a practical dimension, as a few of them have admitted to me.)
This is one of the reasons why I’ve said that mainstream evangelicalism is so shallow today that you can barely drown a gnat in it. The masses follow whatever the celebrity preachers are saying. So if they aren’t teaching this, the masses — for the most part — aren’t even aware of it.
Thankfully, there are ministries functioning today in the spirit of A.W. Tozer, T. Austin-Sparks, etc. But right now at least, you won’t find them speaking at Catalyst or see them featured in Relevant Magazine. Someday that may change, but it’s the situation presently.
What were some of the ways your life changed when you started to become aware of and practice abiding, or living by the indwelling Lord?
Life and peace. Understanding passages in the NT that I never comprehended beforehand. Getting to know others of like mind and having rich fellowship with them. Knowing my Lord better and loving Him more. Seeing amazing fruit in my ministry. Those are a few.
What pitfalls have you seen when people pursue the deeper christian life individualistically? What encouragement would you give to those who are currently on their own?
Spiritual loneliness is a problem for many. Countless Christians today are not satisfied with the superficial status quo. They are instead looking for those intangibles in the Lord that are deeper than the norm. But they can’t seem to find any others who are interested in such things.
I’m actually working on a project with some of my friends that’s designed to provide deeper spiritual content for the spiritually hungry, but also connection to those who are also on “the deeper journey” (the name of my ministry). This isn’t about a particular form of church. It’s rather about networking with others who want more of the Lord, regardless of the kind of church they are a part of or prefer.
If any of your readers are interested in this project, they can join my personal update list to find out more about it. I plan to unveil it in the Fall, so they should stay on the update list after they join. We aren’t yet ready to disclose the details. Here’s the update list: http://frankviola.org/updates
How have you found the “Great Commission” to be reframed in the deeper christian life?
If we are in touch with it, the life of Jesus will impel us to show Christ to the lost, especially in caring for the hurting, the poor, and the oppressed. I talked about this in detail in my message Living in the Divine Parenthesis for those interested to hear my fuller thoughts on it.
You have co-planted churches and co-written books. In what way(s) has co-working manifested Christ greater than in your individual pursuits?
I’m built for team work. It’s in my DNA. The advantages of co-laboring are numerous – sharing the burden of the work, as well as sharing the joys, hardships, and fruits. Also, if a team has chemistry, it can be explosive. I also believe the team concept to be a biblical principle. Not to mention, the greatest artists in the world worked together in teams (Lennon/McCartney; Plant, Page, Bonham, Jones, etc.)
Thanks again, Frank!
Be sure to check out Frank’s newest project with Mary DeMuth, The Day I Met Jesus, and Living by the Indwelling Life of Christ is available till Sunday, June 7th so don’t miss it! It was life changing for me. =)