A writer-friend of mine, or lovie as she would say, has unknowingly referred me to one of the most transformational books I’ve read in a long time. I say unknowingly because Claudia Mair Burney (a fabulous writer that you must check out if you haven’t already) named her blog The Ragamuffin Diva and has written about the revelations she’s received from the book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brendan Manning in such a way that it piqued my interest. So no, she didn’t say, “Yo, Tracey. Read this book!” LOL. However, I do believe that the Holy Spirit heightened my curiosity about it as a result of my following her blog. And for good reason!
Have you ever read something that was both fascinating and challenging, freeing yet convicting, all at the same time? Yeah, well if you haven’t and you’re up for a real shifting at both the mind and heart level then this one’s for you. The Ragamuffin Gospel is exciting to me because it addresses this restlessness that I’ve felt for a while now about “church as usual” and the lack of real, Godly, love among those of us who profess to know Christ.
Here’s a couple of excerpts. I’d love to know your thoughts.
“This is the God of the gospel of Grace. A God who, out of love for us, sent the only son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross, and died whispering forgiveness on us all.
The God of the legalistic Christian, on the other hand, 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. Sunday worship becomes a superstitious insurance policy against His whims. This God expects people to be perfect and to be in perpetual control of their feelings and thoughts. When broken people with this concept of God fail – as inevitably they must – they usually expect punishment. So they perservere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. The struggle itself is exhausting. The legalist can never live up to the expectations they project on God.
If your God is an impersonal cosmic force, your religion will be noncommittal and vague…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”
“We…have twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small minded, bookkeeper. The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness fastened. The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.”
Disclaimer: The book doesn’t in any way imply that all Christians or all churches function in this manner. But I think it’s safe to say that this hits home in many, many ways. As the book so simply states in the first chapter: Something is radically wrong.