Brennan Manning and the Ragamuffin Gospel:
Have you known and believed the love that God has for you? Have you embraced it? I pray that today’s devotional would encourage you…not to action, but to simply receive God’s grace.
The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves. The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception. It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed and pride still rages within us. As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me. When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.
As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.” St. Augustine said, “If we but turn to God, that itself is a gift of God.” My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. The Good News of the Gospel of grace cries out: we are all equally, privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God’s mercy!
Jesus comes not for the super-spiritual but for the wobbly and the weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together, and who are not too proud to accept the handout of amazin’ grace…Any church that will not accept that it consists of sinful men and women, and exists for them, implicitly rejects the gospel of grace…Often hobbling through our church doors on Sunday morning comes grace on crutches – sinners still unable to throw away their false supports and stand upright in the freedom of the children of God.
There we are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to the faith. My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace. Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.”
This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only Son he ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for his milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip, and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all. Trust in the God who loves consistently and faithfully nurtures confident, free disciples. A loving God fosters a loving people…In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us – that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. This is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek.
Today’s devotional was quoted from a book entitled “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. It is one of a handful of books that has literally changed my life, and revolutionized my understanding of what it means to embrace the unconditional grace of God. If you have never read this book, I encourage you to pick it up. It offers good news.
Pastor Chris Jordan