The Handout: Amazing Grace


“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.ย  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.ย  We might as well head for the showers and the champagne celebration.”

~Donald McCullough

6 responses »

  1. Love these! I am starting a book study at church this week called, “Respectable Sins”. This goes along so well! Thinking MY sin is not so bad, and THAT sin is horrible… sin is sin. We have all sinned, and the wages of sin is death. Period. It is grace, period.
    Thanks for the great reminder!

  2. Oh, Sandra! I’m so glad you commented!! Makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, ma’am. We do exactly that! Mine is small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things…but yours? YOURS is BIG and needs to be condemned and talked about for all to see. I read this today:

    Honesty requires the truthfulness to admit the attachment and addictions that control our attention, dominate our consciousness, and function as false gods. I can be addicted to vodka or to being nice, to marijuana or being loved, to cocaine or being right, to gambling or relationships, to golf or gossiping. Perhaps my addiction is food, performance, money, popularity, power, revenge, reading, television, tobacco, weight, or winning. Where we give anything more priority than we give to God, we commit idolatry. Thus we all commit idolatry countless times every day.
    ~Again…Brennan Manning.

    Really cuts deep, you know?

    I love you, Sandra. So good to see you ’round these parts. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Oh wow. I’ve never read that McCullough quote before… But I love me some Brennan Manning. Our pastor told the story of how Brennan changed his name. Do you know the story? I won’t spoil it for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I’m really enjoying Rag-Gospel. Is the story of his name change in the book? It’s refreshing to read of the love of Christ for a sinner like me. I didn’t grow up understanding His unconditional love. It is scary real, you know?
    Thanks for stopping by, Mandy. ๐Ÿ˜€

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