Sunday Sessions: The Ragamuffin Life

April 14, 2013

Sunrise at the top of Half Dome, October 2009

On Friday night, I learned that Brennan Manning passed away. Not only was he a renowned author on Christian faith, he was also the most influential author in my life thus far. I admit, at first I was saddened by the news—after all, it is a great loss for this earth for a man like Brennan to be deceased. But then I remembered what I believe—what I stake my life on, and what Brennan staked his on…

There is no death in Jesus. I don’t want to lose you here if you aren’t someone who follows Jesus, but I also don’t want to waste an opportunity to share honestly and authentically about something I care about more than anything else—I don’t want to let this great man’s passing be in vain. Brennan Manning’s career was based on the foundational truth of grace. He was brilliant and poetic and passionate about one thing for sure: Jesus. Not Jesus as a prophet, or a good person, or a spiritual leader, but Jesus resurrected—Jesus as God.

I understand how strange it is when all of this is written out, but it just doesn’t make sense to me any other way. In a nutshell, I believe that Jesus was who he said he was—and Brennan did too. In honor of this gifted, loving, honest and wise man who shared so much truth with the world during his time here, I wanted to share a few beautiful quotes from my favorite of Brennan Manning’s books: The Ragamuffin Gospel

To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace. Honesty keeps us in touch with our neediness and the truth that we are saved sinners. There is a beautiful transparency to honest disciples who never wear a false face and do not pretend to be anything but who they are.” (page 86)

“And Grace calls out, ‘You are not just a disillusioned old man who may die soon, a middle-aged woman stuck in a job and desperately wanting to get out, a young person feeling the fire in the belly begin to grow cold. You may be insecure, inadequate, mistaken or potbellied. Death, panic, depression, and disillusionment may be near you. But you are not just that. You are accepted.’ Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted.” (page 28)

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have dont nothing to earn it or deserve it.” (page 25)

“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.” (page 46)

“We don’t like the sight of ourselves as we really are, so we try cosmetics, makeup, the right light, and the proper accessories to develop an acceptable image of ourselves. We rely on the stylish disguise that has made us look good or at least look away from our true self. Self-deception mortgages our sinfulness and prevents us from seeing ourselves as we really are—ragamuffins.” (page 127)

Who are ragamuffins, exactly? Those of us who are “bedraggled, beat-up and burnt-out.” Those of us who are “wobbly and weak-kneed who know [we] don’t have it all together.” Those of us who dare to stare into the darkness of who we are, and bring it to Jesus (even if we aren’t sure about who He is). Ragamuffins are honest and broken, knowing that God’s grace is the only true beauty in this world. And as the name of Brennan’s final book is so appropriately titled, “all is grace.”

What author has had the most impact on your life thus far? What bits of their brilliance have touched your soul in a profound way? I’d love to hear from you…

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