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“I am Deeply Loved By Jesus Christ”

I opened my reader this morning to discover no fewer than six tributes to author, speaker, and contemplative Brennan Manning, who passed away early this morning at the age of 79. Brennan Manning is, regrettably, one of those writers that I have seen quoted endlessly but have never actually read. Consequently, I spent a bit of time this morning doing a bit of reading about his life and work, digging up quotes, and generally trying to learn a bit more about this widely admired figure who seemed so keenly tuned to grace. Of course, I also ordered a few of his books :). I am looking forward to my relatively late introduction to Mr. Manning.

Here, then, is one of the more memorable quotes I came across this morning that resonated with me on a number of levels. It is a well-known passage from probably Manning’s most celebrated work, The Ragamuffin Gospel:

ragamuffin.gospel.manningWhen I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.”

The gospel of grace nullifies our adulation of televangelists, charismatic superstars, and local church heroes. It obliterates the two-class citizenship theory operative in many American churches. For grace proclaims the awesome truth that all is gift. All that is good is ours not by right but by the sheer bounty of a gracious God. While there is much we may have earned–our degree and our salary, our home and garden, a Miller Lite and a good night’s sleep–all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to hope where others despair, to love where others hurt. This and so much more is sheer gift; it is not reward for our faithfulness, our generous disposition, or our heroic life of prayer. Even our fidelity is a gift, “If we but turn to God,” said St. Augustine, “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.

7 Comments Post a comment

  1. Hi Ryan 🙂 I thought you might enjoy this!
    Brennan Manning “God loves you as you are, not as you should be” Excellent sermon 🙂

    April 13, 2013
  2. PS I wasn’t expecting the video to post – I thought you’d see the link only… I hope that’s okay.

    April 13, 2013
  3. mike #

    Im sad to hear that Brennan Manning has passed on. His book “The Raggamuffin Gospel” changed/saved my life. I’ve never since heard or read anyone with such a profound grasp on the Gospel of Grace.

    April 13, 2013
  4. chad #

    The Ragamuffin Gospel is one of His best, and the quotes you have a good summary, Brennan knew and lived out of a tremedous sense of the reality of grace. Why is this so hard for us to grasp ? It seems that believe we are truly loved as we are is a life long journey, Brennan has helped me on that journey.

    April 13, 2013
  5. I’m looking forward to reading The Ragamuffin Gospel very much.

    Chad, you ask a very good question. I don’t know why grace is so hard for us… Perhaps it is because, at least in part, it asks us to relinquish (largely illusory) control and stop trying to justify our existence—to ourselves and to everyone else. It forces us to simply acknowledge how very limited we are and to accept that ultimately we can do nothing to secure the things that matter the most to us. It takes a lot of vulnerability to genuinely receive a gift.

    As you say, a life long journey…

    April 14, 2013

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