Booking It - The Ragamuffin Gospel

This post is overdue as I got a teensy bit busy finishing up my Master’s degree and doing two jobs at work! As part of my reading plan for 2011, I wanted to read “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. I finished this book a few weeks ago and I think I will want to re-read it a few times over my lifetime to actually understand the depth Manning discussed. Our friend, PC who blogs at Ragamuffin Ramblingsrecommended this book. Here are my personal highlights:

  • Through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son (page 20)
  • When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed. God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am (p. 23)
  • The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God (p. 40)
  • But trust in the God who loves consistently and faithfully nurtures confident, free disciples. A loving God fosters a loving people (p. 41)
  • In essence, there is only one thing God asks of us-that we be men and women of prayer, people who live close to God, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have that peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it (p. 46)
  • For Jesus this fellowship at the table with those whom the devout had written off was not merely the expression of liberal tolerance and humanitarian sentiment. It was the expression of His mission and message: peace and reconciliation for all, without exception, even for the moral failures (p. 62)
  • Joy was in fact the most characteristic result of all His ministry to ragamuffins (p. 62)
  • Christianity happens when men and women accept with unwavering trust that their sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten, washed away in the blood of the Lamb (p. 119)
  • Trust clings to the belief that whatever happens in our lives is designed to teach us holiness (p. 120)
  • The deadening spirit of hypocrisy lives people who prefer to surrender control of their souls to rules rather than run the risk of living in union with Jesus (p. 140)

The chapter titled, Freedom From Fear (pp. 145-162), was was one of the most impacting chapters of the book for me

  • Freedom in Christ produces a healthy independence form peer pressure, people-pleasing, and the bondage of human respect. The tyranny of public opinion can manipulate our lives. What will the neighbors think? What will my friends think?The expectations of others can exert a subtle but controlling pressure on our behavior (p. 152)
  • In Christ Jesus, freedom from fear empowers us to let go the desire to appear good, so we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are (p. 152)
  • Living by grace inspires a growing consciousness that I am what I am in the sight of Jesus (p. 154)
  • Behind people's grumpiest poses and most puzzling defense mechanisms, behind their arrogance and airs, behind their silence, sneers, and causes, Jesus saw little children who hadn't been loved enough and who had ceased growing because someone ceased believing in them. His extraordinary sensitivity caused Jesus to speak of the faithful as children, no matter how tall, rich, clever, and successful they might be (p. 157-158)
  • Once again, gentleness toward ourselves constitutes the core of our gentleness with others. ... Solidarity with ragamuffins frees the one who receives compassion and liberates the one who gives it in the conscious awareness "I am the other." (p. 159)
  • Certainly "tough love" and discipline have their place in the Christian family. If children are not educated to the difference between right and wrong, they can easily become neurotic. However, only the discipline administered out of love is corrective and productive (p. 159)
  • The decisive thing is the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ground and source of our freedom lies not in ourselves, who are by nature slaves to sin, but in the freedom of His grace setting us free in Christ by the Holy Spirit. We are free from the slavery of sin-for what? For the saving grace of the living God! (p. 161)
  • Second journeys usually end with a new wisdom and a coming to a true sense of self that releases great power. ... It is a wisdom that gives some things up, lets some things die, and accepts human limitations. It is a wisdom that realizes: I cannot expect anyone to understand me fully. It is a wisdom that admits the inevitability of old age and death. It is a wisdom that has faced the pain caused by parents, spouse, family, friends, colleagues, business associates, and has truly forgiven them and acknowledged with unexpected compassion that these people are neither angels nor devils, but only human (p. 164-165)
  • The calls asks, Do you really accept the message that God is head over heels in love with you? ... If in our hearts we really don't believe that God loves us as we are, if we are still tainted by the lie that we can do something to make God love us more, we are rejecting the message of the cross (p. 165)
  • Faith means you want God and want to want nothing else (p. 167)
  • The second call is drawing us to a deeper faith. We need to ask ourselves: Do I really believe the Good News of Jesus Christ? Do I hear His word spoken to my heart: "Shalom, be at peace, I understand"? And what is my response to His second call, whispering to me, "You have My love. You don't have to pay for it. You didn't earn it and can't deserve it. You only have to open to it and receive it. You only have to say yes to My love-a love beyond anything you can intellectualize or imagine"? (p. 168)
  • If we are going to keep growing, we must keep on risking failure throughout our lives (p. 175)
  • The Christian with depth is the person who has failed and who has learned to live with it (p. 175-176)
  • What we do about the lordship of Jesus is a better indication of our faith than what we think (p. 177)
  • After life has lined their faces a little, many followers of Jesus come into a coherent sense of themselves for the first time. When they modestly claim, "I am still a ragamuffin, but I'm different," they are right. Where sin abounded gracehas more abounded (p. 182)
  • But we have turned the tables; we try to live so that he will love us, rather than living because he already loved us (p. 183)
  • The gospel of grace announces, Forgiveness precedes repentance. The sinner is accepted before he pleads for mercy. It is already granted. He need only receive it. Total amnesty. Gratuitous pardon (p. 188)
  • Make a radical choice in faith, despite all your sinfulness, and sustain it through ordinary daily life for Christ the Lord and His kingdom (p. 192)
  • Are you moody and melancholy because you are still striving for the perfection that comes from our own efforts and not from faith in Jesus Christ? ... Though on a given day you may be more depressed than anything else, is the general orientation of your life toward peace and joy? (p. 202)
  • The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don't try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything. With all the goodwill in the world you cannot make anything happen. Don't force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly (p. 203)
  • God is enamored with His people and so intent upon a response that He even provides the grace to respond (p. 208-209)
  • The love of Christ is beyond all knowledge, beyond anything we can intellectualize or imagine. It is not a mild benevolence but a consuming fire. Jesus is so unbearably forgiving, so infinitely patient, and so unendingly loving that He provides us with the resources we need to live lives of gracious response. "Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20) (p. 209)
  • [Speaking of Mary Magdelene] She simply let herself be loved. ... Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more. ... That is what converted the Roman world and what will convert us, and the people around us, if they see that the love of Christ has touched us. ... Christianity is not primarily a moral code but a grace-laden mystery; it is not essentially a philosophy of love but a love affair; it is not keeping rules with clenched fists but receiving a gift with open hands (p. 211)
  • As C.S. Lewis was fond of saying, people need more to be reminded than to be instructed. (p. 211)

Have you read "The Ragamuffin Gospel"? What things did Manning write that stood out to you?