Faith Meets World

Reflections on faith in a messed-up but beautiful world

Category: Grace (Page 2 of 4)

If this is not good news…

Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last ‘trick’, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

‘But how?’ we ask.

Then the voice says, ‘They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’

There they are. There we are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. 

My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.

— Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out

I dare you to trust

To start the week, if you have three and a half minutes to spare, listen to the inspiring words in this video of the late Brennan Manning.

To live by grace

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.

— Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

To hear the music

But all the while, there was one thing we most needed even from the start, and certainly will need from here on out into the New Jerusalem: the ability to take our freedom seriously and act on it, to live not in fear of mistakes but in the knowledge that no mistake can hold a candle to the love that draws us home. My repentance, accordingly, is not so much for my failings but for the two-bit attitude toward them by which I made them more sovereign than grace. Grace – the imperative to hear the music, not just listen for errors – makes all infirmities occasions of glory.

— Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law and the Outrage of Grace

Beyond all liking and happening

Grace is the celebration of life, relentlessly hounding all the non-celebrants in the world. It is a floating, cosmic bash shouting its way through the streets of the universe, flinging the sweetness of its cassations to every window, pounding at every door in a hilarity beyond all liking and happening, until the prodigals come out at last and dance, and the elder brothers finally take their fingers out of their ears.

— Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law and the Outrage of Grace

Outrageous

One of my favourite songs about the radical, boundary-breaking,  paradigm-shifting, cynicism-overcoming, outrageous Grace of God.

Have a great Monday, people.

There’s a lot of pain, but a lot more healing
There’s a lot of trouble, but a lot more peace
There’s a lot of hate, but a lot more loving
There’s a lot of sin, but a lot more grace

Oh outrageous grace, oh outrageous grace
Love unfurled by heaven’s hand
Oh outrageous grace, oh outrageous grace
Through my Jesus I can stand

There’s a lot of fear, but a lot more freedom
There’s a lot of darkness, but a lot more light
There’s a lot of cloud, but a lot more vision
There’s a lot of perishing, but a lot more life

There’s an enemy
That seeks to kill what it can’t control
It twists and turns
Making mountains out of molehills
But I will call on the Lord
Who is worthy of praise
I run to Him and I am saved

Copyright © 2000 Thankyou Music/PRS

Vulgar grace

GraceI’m lacking inspiration and out of time this evening, so I thought I’d just share with you a quote that I’ve read before but that a friend shared with me again today. It combines two of my favourite writers – Brennan Manning and Robert Farrar Capon, both of whom passed away last year. Read it and let it sink into your heart.

With what strength I have left, I want to grab the chains and pull, one last time. My hope, as always, is to point to the God too good to be true, my Abba. I’ve no delusions of heroically bringing down the house of fear that imprisons so many. My desire is to witness, nothing else. My message, unchanged for more than fifty years, is this: God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be. It is the message of grace, the life-shattering gift my heart experienced in February 1956. It is the life-sustaining gift I remain broken by now in February 2011.

Some have labeled my message as one of “cheap grace.” In my younger days, their accusations were a gauntlet thrown down, a challenge. But I’m an old man now and I don’t care. My friend Mike Yaconelli used the phrase unfair grace, and I like that, but I have come across another I would like to leave you with. I believe Mike would like it; I know I do. I found it in the writings of the Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon. He calls it vulgar grace.

‘In Jesus, God has put up a “Gone Fishing” sign on the religion shop. He has done the whole job in Jesus once and for all and simply invited us to believe it–to trust the bizarre, unprovable proposition that in him, every last person on earth is already home free without a single religious exertion: no fasting till your knees fold, no prayers you have to get right or else, no standing on your head with your right thumb in your left ear and reciting the correct creed – no nothing… The entire show has been set to rights in the Mystery of Christ – even though nobody can see a single improvement. Yes, it’s crazy. And yes, it’s wild, outrageous, and vulgar. And any God who would do such a thing is a God who has no taste. And worst of all, it doesn’t sell worth beans. But it is Good News – the only permanently good news there is–and therefore I find it absolutely captivating.”’ (The Romance of the Word, p. 20).

My life is a witness to vulgar grace – a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up a ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request– “Please, remember me” – and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine.

This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.

— Brennan Manning

[Image: Dean Ayres © Some rights reserved ]

Page 2 of 4

All content on this site is copyright © Rob Grayson 2013-2016 unless otherwise indicated