Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Let's Read Together: Ragamuffin Gospel Chapter 2

(Need to catch up? I wrote about Chapter 1 here.)

Chapter 2: Magnificent Monotony
Quotes in italics are Brennan Manning's words from the book

This chapter is all about how big God's love is. It begins with a discussion of the perfection and majesty required to create a universe like ours. Looking at the world around us, it is easy to acknowledge that majesty, but Brennan Manning argues that we have a difficulty attributing that same majestic quality to the depth of God's love. We find all sorts of ways and reasons to make His love smaller. This is another thing Brennan (I refer to him by his first name now because I feel like we're friends) talked about in the video I posted with Chapter 1 - the way we allow God's love to become as small and judgmental as we can be.

The God of the legalistic Christian...is often unpredictable, erratic, and capable of all manner of prejudices. When we view God this way, we feel compelled to engage in some sort of magic to appease Him....The struggle itself is exhausting.

I feel like what happened to me when I first really came to know Jesus, and maybe this is familiar to a lot of people, is that I became so caught up on what I should or shouldn't be doing. It was definitely very legalistic. It was exhausting for me and led into my own judgment of others and myself. I remember feeling so happy with the relationship, but at the same time so full of guilt and shame because I couldn't "live up to" this image I had in my head of what a Christian should be. That time in my life led to a time where I was really broken by my own decisions and my own failures and only then did I truly come to know Jesus as He is - so full of grace and love - that I was amazed by it. And not only that, but the people in my life who really knew Him as well, also showed themselves to be so full of that grace and love as well. 

But trust in the God who loves consistently and faithfully nurtures confident, free disciples. A loving God fosters a loving people. The fact that our view of God shapes our lives to a great extent may be one of the reasons Scripture ascribes such importance to seeking to know him.

Seeking to know Him. Really know him. That is something I don't think I've spent enough time really trying to do. This chapter motivated me to learn more about the character of God and the promises He has made about Himself in His word. I recently picked up the book Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. I feel like sometimes I can't find any better words than to just repeat the ones in the Bible when speaking to God. So I'm loving going through the book and finding scripture that speaks directly to what I'm going through. I loved how Brennan also said "The Word we study has to be the Word we pray." And in all of that I need to remember Who it is I'm praying to and what that means for me. There is a section on page 46 of my book that talks about the fact that we can truly know and feel God, that He makes His presence felt. I loved that. I love that truth and that promise.

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.

Wow. People for whom God is enough. I wonder if someone would describe me in that way right now. I actually doubt it and that only makes me want to grow closer to Him. To recognize and accept the grace He gives so completely and freely would be truly life-changing for anyone. To truly understand and accept that He accepts us exactly as we are. If we truly understood who He is, His character, His majesty, His grace, His love, then it truly would be enough.

One of my favorite things Brennan says at the end of the chapter is that "love is a far better stimulus than threat or pressure." He says that just because we come to accept the grace of God and understand that we are accepted as we are and can therefore accept ourselves as we are, it doesn't mean we will just become apathetic and lazy about becoming more like Christ. Actually, understanding that love only stimulates us more to want to be more like Him. To be closer to that kind of love and grace is much more motivation to me than fear of being apart from it.

Those are just my thoughts. Is anyone reading this or has read it before? What stuck out to you?

Again, I want to memorize a verse from this chapter. This time I'm going to do...
Galatians 2:21
I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

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