Faith Meets World

Reflections on faith in a messed-up but beautiful world

Category: Grace (Page 2 of 4)

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


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 ]

Grace for those who need it most

A couple of days ago, Matt B. Redmond reposted a fantastic little article from a few years back on his blog Echoes and Stars. Here’s a paragraph to whet your appetite:

Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone. Christmas is for those whose lives have been wrecked by cancer and the thought of another Christmas seems like an impossible dream. Christmas is for those who would be nothing but lonely if not for social media. Christmas is for those whose marriages have careened against the retaining wall and are threatening to flip over the edge. Christmas is for the son, whose father keeps giving him hunting gear when the son wants art materials. Christmas is for smokers who cannot quit even in the face of a death sentence. Christmas is for whores, adulterers and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place. Christmas is for college students who are sitting in the midst of family and already cannot wait to get out for another drink. Christmas is for those who traffic in failed dreams. Christmas is for those who have squandered the family name and fortune – they want ‘home’ but cannot imagine a gracious reception. Christmas is for parents watching their children’s marriage fall into disarray.

Christmas is about the gospel of grace for those who need it.

Go and read the whole thing. This is what Christmas is about.

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