This is the title of a book I am reading by Brennan Manning. I joked around today with a good friend that if a Christian has not read anything by Brennan Manning, they are not a Christian. To be a follower of Christ is to read Brennan Manning. Ok, so, that might be a slight exageration, but everyone’s theology is in flux, right?
Just having a little bit of fun. All jokes aside, Manning’s writings remind of something very, very, very, very, very, very important as a Christian – that every breathe is a product of grace. Anything I might do, try to do, or even fail to do is because of grace. My American friend, face it. We live in a society that determines your value based on your market-value. In other words, how good are you? How skillful are you? How talented are you? How rare is what you have to offer? Our entire economy, predominantly capitalistic (though there are significant traces of Socialism to be found in our American political/economic system as well), runs on the basic supply-and-demand principle. It becomes so easy to take our eyes of of Jesus, the friend of sinners, and to start believing that Christianity is all about how good you can be, how much good you can do, what you can produce, and how better you are than others.
This is wrong.
Did you hear me? This is wrong.
A few days ago I finished Manning’s book, “Ruthless Trust.” Amazing. It truly touched my heart and jerked me back to grace. I have also read his “Ragamuffin Gospel” and “Signature of Jesus.” His book, “All is Grace” is his memoir, an autobiography of sorts. I am only on page 51 and already, I have to find a way to read more.
Are you the kind of Christian who never measures up to your own standard? And even worse, are you the kind of Christian that always gives people the impression that Christianity is about doing the right stuff? Do you always feel like people are getting it wrong? Do you always feel like people are disappointing God? Do you judge people’s value, including yours, based on your performance? And be careful. No person in the universe is better at lying to you than yourself. Answer honestly. I bet there is still some Pharisee in you (or alot). I love this quote in the forward by Philip Yancey, “As you read this memoir, you may be tempted, as I was, to think, Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t given in to drink. I urge you to reframe the thought to, Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t discovered grace.”
So, read Manning so that you will stop looking in the mirror at yourself. Read Manning so that you will be equipped to see others like God sees them. Read Manning so that you do not stink up the room with a sense of self-righteousness because, for some reason, you forgot how much grace it took to get you where you are at.