“The gospel declares that no matter how dutiful or prayerful we are, we can’t save ourselves. What Jesus did was sufficient. To the extent that we are self-made saints like the Pharisees or neutral like Pilate (never making the leap in trust), we let the prostitutes and publicans go first into the kingdom while we, in Flannery O’Connor’s unforgettable image, are in the background having our alleged virtue burnt out of us. The hookers and swindlers enter before us because they know they cannot save themselves, they cannot make themselves presentable or lovable. They risked everything on Jesus, and knowing they didn’t have it all together, were not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace.
Maybe this is the heart of our hang-up, the root of our dilemma. We fluctuate between castigating ourselves and congratulating ourselves because we are deluded into thinking we save ourselves.”
~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
“Grace means in the middle of our struggle the referee blows the whistle and announces the end of the game. We are declared winners and sent to the showers.
It’s over for all huffing, puffing piety to earn God’s favor;
It’s finished for all sweat-soaked straining to secure self-worth;
It’s the end of all competitive scrambling to get ahead of others in the game.
Grace means that God is on our side and thus we are victors regardless of how well we have played the game. We might as well head for the showers and the champagne celebration.”