Recently I began reading a book a friend got me for Christmas called The Ragamuffin Gospel. The book, by Brennan Manning, is an exploration into the grace-laden Gospel of Jesus Christ, given to all the sinful, broken, weak people of the world.I’m only a few chapters in but I have to say, this book is rocking my world. It’s completely dismantling my narrow view of God’s grace, love, mercy, and goodness. It’s loudly reminding me that the grace of God can in no way be earned or lost. It can only be received or rejected. His grace has already come and altered the sentence of death that was on our lives in the form of Jesus. We didn’t earn it, we never will, but we can never undermine it. To accept the grace of God is a braver thing than we think. As the quote below says, we have to have unshakeable trust and confidence in God’s promise of everlasting, unchanging love for us.
“For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Jesus Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened,” He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way. These words are a touching testimony to the genuine humanness of Jesus. He had no romantic notion of the cost of discipleship. He knew that following Him was as unsentimental as duty, as demanding as love.” -Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt OutThat can be a very difficult thing to do when we bury ourselves under guilt, shame, and a works mentality. We get it wrong when we let shame and guilt motivate us to work for the Kingdom in hopes we’re erasing the mistakes of our past with shiny new accomplishments. That’s the quickest way to burn out on Christianity. Because the fact is, we will never be able to do enough to blot out our sin. God knew he came to save a broken people. His grace is sufficient for your past, your present, and your future. And He designed us to need Him daily and He makes Himself available to us. I don’t say all this to disqualify the real penalties of sin. Like Paul said, God’s abounding grace is not a free pass to continue living in sin. Rather it is the freedom to move on, not bound by shame and guilt. Your acceptance of grace is the difference between owning your story for the glory of God and believing the lie that your life is a disappointment. Grace is freedom. Maybe this is a review for many of you. Maybe you know this. For me, it was a truth I needed to re-bury in my heart. It was a truth I found myself not being completely awed by every day. In the book, Manning makes the point that if we are unwilling to accept God’s grace whole-heartedly and unashamedly, then we do not truly believe or understand the Gospel we preach at all. Today, receive. Just take a moment to be completely overwhelmed and saturated with His infinite grace. Your decision to live by grace shares glorious hope with all the other ragamuffins of the world.