Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Ragamuffin Gospel

I am reading The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning. Brennan Manning is a jar of clay that houses a sweet, most fragrant, grace-full, Christ-like spirit, and his writing is a joy and a challenge to read. He holds a mirror up to the reader, and one gets a distinct impression that this is a mirror that the author has looked into deeply and often. It is the mirror of truth, from the perspective of the One who is Truth, the One who blends love and truth in a vital, life-saving, terrifying way.

There is something that happens within a church when one hapless saint decides to live in utter truth. I am not speaking of the truth that only points to others and never at oneself. When we become truly truthful with ourselves about ourselves, we have no energy, time or arrogance left to fuel a pointing at someone else. We come face to face with the awful and lovely truth - we are not worthy to condemn or judge others. It's awful because it stabs our pride. It is lovely because it sets us free from bitterness and anger and the ugliness of being meanly judgmental. Because believe me, no matter how large our audience is as we rip the shreds out of someone else's life and reputation, each one walks away from us determined never to trust themselves to our ugly spirits of gossip and condemnation. It is lovely to be set free from such ugliness.

There is something that happens in a church when a saint begins to be honest about themselves. Some of the faithful will try to console the honest one. Oh, you aren't really that bad. We all make mistakes. You aren't taking on this ministry because you don't want to? You mustn't think so little of yourself, of course you have much to offer!

Some will use guilt to send the truth scurrying back under the rock that it came from. But you should want to serve God! Oh, you mustn't be angry, it's not nice. I understand that you are hurting, but you are making us all feel so uncomfortable! There are some things you just need to keep to yourself!

Some get angry. If you were my wife/husband/friend, I'd leave you. I wouldn't put up with that. We don't tolerate sin in this church. You are causing problems here!

Thankfully, the grace of God is greater than all the reactions of his people. And when God sees a child of His with the courage to be honest about who she really is, His reaction is grace. Unconditional love. Pleasure at the faith it takes to brave the truth. Honored at the trust in Him that is displayed, even by one who is being honest enough to admit a lack of trust in Him. It takes a tremendous amount of faith in the love of God to be able to tell Him that you feel you don't have faith in the love of God! A mustard seed. That's all it takes to thrill God's heart!

I have just started The Ragamuffin Gospel, and already I am thrilled.

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