But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Never understood grace
Come from a grace church, so I always went my own way.
Kindness – Forgiveness – Love
(Pic of Brennen)
Born April 27, 1934
Raised depression era NY City, finished high school, army – faught in Korean war
Returned – enrolled in seminary, joined Little Brothers of Jesus – lived quiet lives among the poor.
France – Transported water via donkey
6 months – Jail – Switzerland – voluntary prisoner
6 months living – cave – Desert
Returned home to New York and became an alcoholic
A little later in his life – Wrote books – Raggamuffin Gospel
“Raggamuffin” – Poorest / poor – great depression
When I first was interested in him: his death
How has grace changed you?
Asking myself – how has grace changed me.
Bible College: Word of Faith Movement
I didn’t need grace
But then life happened.
I realized there was more to the christian life than the mountaintop.
People lose confidence in Christianity: When it doesn’t all work, and you’re still messed up.
During this series, I plan to break the rules, read too much text, didn’t organize it right, etc. But I hope you catch the spirit of the topic.
Preparing for this series wasn’t so much about reading books, and getting point together, it’s just been my life for the past 6 months.
‘A Word Before’
The Ragamuffin Gospel was written with a specific audience in mind.
This book is not for the superspiritual. – It is not for muscular Christians who have made John Wayne, and not Jesus, their hero.
It is not for academics who would imprison Jesus in the ivory tower of exegesis.
It is not for noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate Christianity into a naked appeal of emotion. – It is not for the hooded mystics who want magic in their religion. – It is not for Alleluia Christians who live only on the mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation. – It is not for the fearless and tearless.
It is not for the red-hot zealots who boast with the rich young ruler of the Gospels: “All these commandments I have kept from my youth.”
It is not for the complacent who hoist over their shoulders a tote bag of honors, diplomas, and good works, actually believing they have it made.
It is not for the legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rules than run the risk of living in union with Jesus.
If anyone is stll reading along, The Ragamuffin Gospel was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out. – It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other. – It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don’t have it all together and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
It is for the inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker.
It is for the poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents.
It is for the earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay.
It is for the bent and the bruised who feel that their lives are a grave dissappointment to God.
It is for the smart people who know they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags. – The Ragamuffin Gospel is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the way.
Coming to these services w/no spiritual makeup on.
Hunchback of Notre Dame
Bible – brokenness
Something is radically wrong
Human nature – turn things into rules
Relationships In a relationship, you find something you really like doing, so you consistently do it, it can become a ‘have to’
Christianity – What used to be a gift – We’ve turned into a way of keeping track.
Good ones / Bad ones / Backslidden ones
We say God loves everyone, we act like God loves the good ones. And is dissapointed in the bad ones.
“The American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice.”
We say that all who come to God come by grace, but our lives refute our faith.
Sooner or later – confronted painful truth of our own inadequecy.
All our running and racing and striving. – means nothing
The word grace – Lose meaning – overused/misused
Some catholic circles – High ranking “Your grace” – Iceskater – “graceful” – Mean boss “Lacking in grace” – Kids report card “Disgrace” – Perfume “amazing grace”
‘Grace’ used to mean something.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky – Russian novelist – At the last judgement Christ will say to us,
“Come, you also.” Come drunkards! Come weaklings! Come, children of shame!” He will say ‘Vile beings, you who are in the image of the beast, but come all the same, you as well.” And the wise and prudent will say “Lord why do you welcome them?” And he will say “If I welcome them it is because not one of them has been judged worthy.” And we will fall at his feet, and we will understand the gospel of grace.”
Martin Luther reformation
Wrestling w/idea: How could the gospel of Christ be truly called ‘good news’ if God is a righteous judge who rewards the good and punishes the evil? Did Jesus really have to come to reveal that terrifying message?
How is that ‘news’ at all?
Humanity has always had fear of punishment hanging over it’s head.
Martin Luther realize that the bible talking about the righteousness of God isn’t about him being righteous, but it’s the righteousness that’s ours in him.
Central statement of reformation: “Through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace.
The least of these
God came for
Hookers – Porn Stars – Murderers – Rapists
Bad decisions, stupid lifestyles.
Who do you disqualify? – Rock Hudson
1925 – 1985
Famous movie stars – 1950’s
First major celebrity to die of aids.
Marc Christian – former lover – sued his estate for 22 million dollars
Christian claimed that Hudson continued having sex with him until February 1985, more than eight months after Hudson knew that he had HIV. And he never told him.
On his deathbed – called for a priest, confessed his sins, and cried to God for forgiveness.
Something is radically wrong when we reject a person who is accepted by Jesus.
We think their weakness is somehow dishonoring to God. Which is crazy.
We’re not allowed to be God’s gatekeeper.
Not that everyone is good, but that no one is.
(TO RICH YOUNG RULER: ) “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. (Mark 10:18)
To the rich young ruler.
Grace stops: Idolizing Preachers
Kills the ‘two class citizenship’.
B/C – All is gift
Brennan: “While there is much we have earned – our degree, our salary, our home and garden, a miller lite, and a good night’s sleep – all this is possible only because we have been given so much: life itself, eyes to see and hands to touch, a mind to shape ideas, and a heart to beat with love. We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh.”
Good news: can stop lying to ourselves
Grace – lets us stop playing games
As a sinner saved by grace, I can ackknowledge
Unloving – Hateful – Prideful – Jealous
Come to church – can leave white hat at home.
God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am.
Don’t have to wear makup, pretending.
Celebrate: His goodness – not mine
My need is the point.
C.S. Lewis – The Four Loves
“Grace produces a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our need, a joy in total dependance. The good man is sorry for the sins which have increased his need (for God). He is not entirely sorry for the fresh need the sins have produced.”
When I’m honest: bundle of paradoxes
I believe/doubt – Faith/Fear – Love/Hate – Tell Truth/Liar – Trusting/Cynical – Honest/Play Games
Brennan “I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer”
Grace means: to acknowledge whole life story – light side and dark.
Myth: Once converted, fully.
Once I accept Jesus, my life will be a sinless ride to the top.
Success story – Upward spiral – holiness.
Discipleship: huge beautiful success story.
Peter Think about Peter – success/failure
Brennen: Often I am asked: “Brennan, how is it possible that you became an alcoholic after you got saved?” It is possible because I got battered and bruised by loneliness and failure; because i got discouraged, uncertain, guilt-ridden, and took my eyes off Jesus.” Because the Christ-encounter did not transfigure me into an angel. Because justification by grace through faith doesn’t make me a patient sedated on a table.
House sitting – vs Mortgage
Life tastes sweeter – when you know you didn’t earn it.
Grace cries out “We are all equally privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God’s mercy!”
Luke 18 – Rich young ruler
“What must I ‘do’ to inherit eternal life?”
Contrast – Jesus w/children “kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
It’s contrasted. They’re right next to each other in the bible.
If you want to enter the kingdom, you have to do it like these kids.
In NT – they weren’t sentimental about kids like today.
Children are our model b/c they have no claim to heaven.
If they get anything, it can only be as a gift.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you might experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and then sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit…and today on planet earth may you experience the wonder and beauty of yourself as Abba’s Child, the temple of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.”