Eight Years Later: What I’m Learning from Ragamuffin Gospel

Accepting God’s grace is something I’ve struggled with for years. I fear that if I acknowledge that I’m a mess, that God has saved me, and that I can stop feeling guilty about my sin that I will somehow let myself off the hook, stop trying to live in a way that honors God, and just start to love a life of sin. However, I’m convinced that God doesn’t want me to be a slave to guilt.

In high school, a group of friends and I read Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel. I didn’t like it. I thought it was written by this sinner who had no remorse for his sin. It was way over my head. I think that God wants to teach me about grace right now, so I’m reading The Ragamuffin Gospel again. This time, I’ve found passage after passage that resonates in my heart. I hope they encourage you as well.

  1. The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded book-keeper. The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness fastened. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded. (17-18)
  2. The difference between faith as “belief in something that may or may not exist” and faith as “trusting in God” is enormous. The first is a matter of the head, the second a matter of the heart. The first can leave us unchanged, the second intrinsically brings change. (28)
  3. “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love.” -Julian of Norwich (37) 
  4. The child of God knows that the graced life calls him or her to live on a cold and windy mountain, not on the flattened plain of reasonable, middle-of-the-road religion. (40)
  5. 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. (46)
  6. Several times in my ministry people have expressed the fear that self-acceptance will abort the ongoing conversion process and lead to a life of spiritual laziness and moral laxity. Nothing could be more untrue. The acceptance of self does not mean to be resigned to the status quo. On the contrary, the more fully we accept ourselves, the more successfully we begin to grow. Love is a far better stimulus than threat. (49)
  7. “It is possible to attain great holiness of life while still being prone to pettiness and insincerity, sensuality and envy, but the first move will always be to recognize that I am that way. In terms of spiritual growth the faith-conviction that God accepts me as I am is a tremendous help to become better.” -Peter Van Breeman (49)
  8. Whatever we have done in the past, be it good or evil, great or small, is irrelevant to our stance before God today. (53)
  9. Because we never lay hold of our nothingness before God, and consequently, we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with Him. But when we accept ownership of our powerlessness and helplessness, when we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God’s mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us. (78)
  10. The (spiritually) poor man and woman of the gospel have made peace with their flawed existence. They are aware of their lack of wholeness, their brokenness, the simple fact that they don’t have it all together. While they do not excuse their sin, they are humbly aware that sin is precisely what has caused them to throw themselves at the mercy of the Father. (80)

Find more Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda.

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3 thoughts on “Eight Years Later: What I’m Learning from Ragamuffin Gospel

  1. I’ve been thinking a bit more about grace too lately. I recently re-read John 8’s adulterous woman story, something I’ve spent time on before, but something new struck me. It was that when Jesus told the eager crowd, ready to chuck stones at the girl, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” (vs. 7), He was talking about Himself. Jesus had every right to stone her, and was in fact the only one qualified in light of God’s law. I am both the crowd (guilty also, and needing to drop the rock and forgive) and the adulterer (deserving death). The very One who can rightfully judge me and carry out my penalty stays His hand and drops the rock too.

    Glad you got more out of the book this time around. Maybe I should put it back on my list too. 🙂

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