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Accepting Grace

I have been trying to write this post in my head for a while now. It has been rather difficult. I want to share how important the book The Ragamuffin Gospel is to me, and its vital message of accepting God's grace.

I would like to be able to say that this message of accepting grace has been revolutionary for me—that I am a different person. As with most key battles in our lives, though, it is never that simple. I still struggle to accept God's grace and I honestly feel like it is going to be that way for the rest of my life.

This post may not be making much sense so far. I should back up. I had heard Brennan Manning's name before but had not read any of his books. A couple months ago someone on Twitter linked to this short video of him speaking. After watching it, I bumped his book up next on my to-read list.


[Jesus says] I have a word for you:

I know your whole life story.

I know every skeleton in your closet.

I know every moment of sin, shame, dishonesty, and degraded love that has darkened your past. Right now I know your shallow faith, your feeble prayer life, your inconsistent discipleship.

And My word is this: “I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are and not as you should be, because you're never going to be as you should be.”

I read the book and it was revolutionary for me. Yet its message is something that I need to remind myself of daily and often fight with myself to believe. God loves me as I am. There is nothing I can do to make Him love me more.

This seems like such a simple message. It is not as if I never heard that God loved me while growing up in church. It was certainly demonstrated to me, too. But like Manning describes in that video and his book, somewhere along the way little lies crept in and my perception of God became more legalistic. Shame clouded my perception. I still believed God loved me, but I felt like my screw-ups were impairing His love for me somehow.

I feel like many Christians have a similar perception and it is easy for the organizational church to aid in this. I certainly have not often heard the gospel of grace explained as well as Manning did in this book. That's why it is so very important to me and I strongly encourage you to read it. You can borrow my copy, or I might even buy you one.


The call asks, “Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you?” I believe that this question is at the core of our ability to mature and grow spiritually. If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, p. 165

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Responses

Sheryl

Sheryl

I think in a way this is even a good message for those that aren't Christians. I know I am one of those people, who, like you, am hard on myself. It's not necessarily because I feel like I am letting God down, but instead because I feel as if I am not doing enough or I am not what I should be. Sometimes it's necessary to just realize that you are great the way you are, and that while it's good to improve, even if you didn't, you're still “perfect”.


Brenda

Brenda

thumbs up Greg!


Mark Burkiktt

Mark Burkiktt

Gregor,

Let me share what I've learned about the love of God.

When my seventeen year old son Scotty was killed suddenly in a car accident in July of 2009, I walked through a period when I truly questioned the love of God for me. I was not angry with God, but everything I thought I'd known about His love, His provision, his grace in my life went sailing out that hospital window where I watched my beloved son die. Yet, I believe God loves me. It just feels way different now than it used to. I weep more easily, and I'm much more hesitant to say that I understand what God is up to most of the time.

Scotty had chosen to be an organ donor, and his mom and I decided to honor his wish. Due to the nature of his injuries, the ICU staff told us they would keep him on a ventilator for about 30 hours after he'd been declared brain dead, so that his body could recover from the shock of the accident, and his organs would have the best chance of successful transplantation. We spent that time loving him, touching him (he looked like he was asleep) talking to him, caring for him, saying goodbye to him. Then the recovery team came and took him away. I cannot bear to think what happened to him next; yet I have embraced the man who received Scotty's heart, felt it beating in his chest, knowing hat heart was an answer to the faithful prayers of many, many people.

So the first thing I learned is: God's love for you may not look like what you think it should.

I also learned something about the grace of God.

Because Scotty died, another man is alive today. This has taught me something about the love of the Father for His Son, and how the Father sees you and me because of what His one and only Son has done. This is not a theological idea to me now, it's something I know in my gut.

There is nothing in the universe more precious in the eyes of the Father than the blood of His only begotten Son. The blood of the Son has infinite value. That blood was willingly offered as a sacrifice, poured over us as an offering to the Father. When God looks at us, He does not see our failure, our rebellion, our laziness, our faithlessness, our fear, our cowardice, our pettiness, our greed, our childish anger, our pride, our self righteousness: He sees the blood of His beloved Son poured over us and covering us, and because we accept it, He accepts us.

It's really that simple.

We are made right with God because we accept what Yeshua accomplished for us, we identify with the work completed at the execution stake. Nothing we can do could possibly compare or add to what Yeshua has done, all we can do is receive it, or reject it. Sometimes I think we misrepresent the gospel when we say we must accept Jesus into our hearts to be saved: no, we must believe that God has accepted what His Son accomplished on our behalf, and the evidence of His acceptance is the empty tomb.

So do not be troubled by your continuing struggle, and don't tie your relationship with God to anything that you can or can't do. Accept that His grace is enough for every day, good, bad, or indifferent. Strive to please God, knowing that you're obedient trust is the thing He most desires from you. Trust. Believe. Receive. Give. Live.

Shalom



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