The Ragamuffin Gospel

January 14, 2008 at 10:00 pm (My ramblings)

I was talking to a girlfriend of mine, Courtney (aka-foo foo skippy), one day about grace and she suggested that I read The Ragamuffin Gospel. I had heard about it and it was on my list to read anyways so I went ahead and bought it. Wow, that’s all I can say. What a reminder that Christ came not for the healthy but for the sick. He died for us WHILE we were sinners. Staggering thought.
Anyways, in the first chapter, Brennan Manning is brutally honest when he states, “The American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice. Our culture is partially to blame because the word grace is impossible to understand. We resonate slogans like: There’s no free lunch. You get what you deserve. You want money? Work for it. You want love? Earn it. You want mercy? Show you deserve it. Do unto others before they do unto you. Though the Scriptures insist on God’s initiative in the work of salvation, our spirituality often starts with self not God. Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if only personal discipline and self-denial will mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing…Sooner or later we are confronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficiency. Our security is shattered…weakness and infidelity appear. We discover our inability to add a single inch to our spiritual stature…Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace.”

And that was just part of the chapter! I am not writing about this to come down on the church but to agree with what the author wrote because this entire paragraph could have been written about me. It sounds like my biography. I have been writing about my struggles with grace and the law since I started this blog and until I “get” it, I guess I’ll continue writing about it. I know in my head what grace is. I mean for heaven’s sake, I work for the church! I do Bible studies on grace! But how and when did grace become something that I keep striving to earn? I have prayed about this very issue since I was pretty much saved. I shared in an earlier post about an old roomate asking me if I thought God loved me anymore today than the day He pulled me out of the alcohol induced, depression laden pit from hell and I know, know, that He doesn’t!
I know there is absolutely nothing I can do to merit His love and forgiveness and I will be joyous on the day that I can just rest in His presence and let Him love me for who I am. Broken, messed up little me bringing absolutely nothing but myself to Him. How can I offer grace if I can’t even accept it for myself? How can I explain the love and mercy of Christ if people watch me continually strive for it? How can I show people that God is a lover of the broken hearted when I hide my own broken heart from Him? You’d think I’d be getting it now! Have you struggled with this issue too? I mean, jiminy crickets, why do I have to be a type a in my relationship with the Lord?!
I know I am rambling and I am not condemning myself, I guess I just needed to share that with the whole world. Hahaha!
Praise God He knows what He’s doing!

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1 Comment

  1. John said,

    Rachel,
    One of the reasons I think we (notice I said WE–you are not alone in this) struggle with having to earn grace is that we as humans simply don’t believe you can get something for nothing. Grace is the ultimate something for nothing equation, so we decide we MUST do something. Surely there’s something we can do. All God asks us to do is love Him. That’s it. End of story. No epilogue.
    That’s simply not a human response. But remember…it’s also not human love. It’s God’s love.

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