(a repost. Brennan Manning passed away yesterday. Abba's child is with his Father.)
A friend sent me this excerpt from Brennan Manning's The Furious Longing of God. It's been rattling around in my head ever since.
Paul wrote in Philippians, "He emptied Himself." He cried from His heart, nails in His hands, and poured out His blood that we might believe His love for us. Significantly, Jesus chose the giving tree, His cross, as the demonstrative sign of His absolutely furious love for men and women. In the words of one early church father: "the mightiest act of love ever to arise from a human soul." How is it then that we've come to imagine that Christianity consists of primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don't watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love.This, my friends, is what it really means to be a Christian."
Another friend, just a few days ago, showed me this video of Manning.
Manning's book Ragamuffin Gospel saved my life the summer after my senior year of high school. I really mean that. I know my story isn't unique in that regard; there are a lot of people who can point to Manning as a crucial voice in their lives. But if you haven't read Manning, I hope you will. We need people who speak with the fury of a prophet about the love of God, because it's not a nice story with a moral at the end, like one of Aesop's fables. It's the terrifying, heart-breaking, heart-restoring, healing truth of what God has done to reach out to our broken souls and our broken world, and I'm so glad Manning has been telling that story.