Today's "words to soak in" are excerpts from the first chapter of Brennan Manning's classic book The Ragamuffin Gospel (1990, Multnomah Press). It could also be called The Official Guide To Grace- or maybe that's just me. Enjoy.
Something is radically wrong.
The Christian community often resembles a Wall Street exchange of works where in the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness believed. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded... Put bluntly the American Church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice.
Our culture has made the word grace impossible to understand. We resonate with slogans such as:
"There's no free lunch."
"You get what you deserve."
"You want love? Earn it."
"You want mercy? Show you deserve it."
"Do unto others before they do it unto you."
Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if it is only personal discipline and self-denial that will mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing.
Our approach to the Christian life is just as absurd as the enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumber's license and was taken to see Niagra Falls. He studied it for a minute and then said, "I think I can fix this."
We believe that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps- indeed, we can do it ourselves. Sooner or later we are coonfronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficency. Our sercurity is shattered and our bootstraps are cut.
God of grace have mercy on us- again.
He Is Risen!