Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Discipleship for Amateurs, Pt. 2

Last week I wrote a blog about how we can sometimes get caught up in self-shaming for not doing faith the right way, convinced we are disappointing God or other Christians because we don't follow the code perfectly. As a follow up to that, I stumbled across this quote by Brennan Manning:

"I want neither a terrorist spirituality that keeps me in a perpetual state of fright about being in right relationship with my heavenly Father...nor a sappy spirituality that portrays God as such a benign teddy bear that there is no aberrant behavior or desire of mine that he will not condone. I want a relationship with the Abba of Jesus, who is infinitely compassionate with my brokenness and at the same time an awesome, incomprehensible, and unwieldy Mystery." Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: A Ragamuffin's Path to God

What Manning says here seems so common sense to me, and yet, the images of the terrorist God who rules by fear and the passive God who lets everything slide tend to be the more common ones that I see portrayed in culture. I think that's because they are easier. It's easy to imagine a one-note God that has a simple, predictable response to everything I do, but a God (or any relationship) that's in it for the long haul, warts and all, is rare. 

Most relationships are conditional and based upon a mutual benefit and won't survive extended rough patches. My truly good friends are the ones who can say, "You're being a jerk, but I still love you." Not ignoring or excusing my occasional douchiness, but calling me on it and then walking with me to a better version of myself. 

That's what I need from God and that's how I interpret what Paul means when he writes in Romans: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I imagine the God that bothered to send us Jesus is a God that looks at me when I screw up and sighs, smiles, and says, "Let's try that again, shall we?"

(Quick note: Brennan Manning has a better grasp of God's grace than most anyone I know. While I haven't read the book quoted above, The Ragamuffin Gospel is one of the best books I've ever read and I highly recommend it.)

“I love you for who you are, girl, cuz I can see who you gonna be.” -Paul Wright, “Little Italy (She Says)”

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