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