Most of us believe in God's grace--in theory. But somehow we can't seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet. Yet God gives us his grace, willingly, no matter what we've done. We come to Him as ragamuffins--dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His "furious love."A short while ago (read: 2.5 months), Brennan Manning came to speak at my church in Los Angeles, Bel Air Presbyterian, while our pastor was on sabbatical. Apparently I'm not up to snuff on my Christian authors because I had never heard of him before, but I think in the end I'm glad for that. I got to hear his message for the first time in person, which was really cool.
"God loves you just as you are, not as you should be, for you will never be as you should be."
That was the point he repeated over and over again. What a terrific point! For all of the fuss that modern-day Christianity is making, the simple truth is that Jesus came that we might know that God loves us, wants the best for us, and accepts us home just the way we are. We don't have to be perfect--or even good--before we come wandering back, His arms are already wide open.
Being thoroughly reinvigorated by the sermon and with Christmas only a few weeks away, his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, seemed like a natural thing to ask for when I got the annual phone call from Grandma.
I now betray my slow reading pace as I just finished the book a few days ago. It's not that I'm a slow reader, it's that I'm an infrequent reader. But I digress. The Ragamuffin Gospel was an neatly articulated, refined, more scripturally supported version of Manning's sermon. Plain and simple. My mind a few times strayed to the current "struggle" that Equality Ride is dealing with, though I attempted to read it with an unclouded mind.
If you are a Christian, I would highly recommend this book as a way to remember what is really important in life. If you aren't a Christian, I would highly recommend this book, too. Looking at the news headlines you might wonder why anyone would want to be a Christian -- this will answer that.
And if, for whatever reason, you feel lost and hopeless. Unloved or unworthy. Abandoned, betrayed, or simply alone. You definitely need to read this.
We come to God not because we have it all together, but because we are beat-up, worn out, and eager for rest. In the end, we all ragamuffins, and God loves us all just the same.