The book I’ve gifted far more than any other is “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning. I wanted to share an excerpt from the book that describes the difference between the God of grace and the legalistic God that many Christians follow. Manning states:
This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever 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 persevere in religious practices as they struggle to maintain a hollow image of a perfect self. The struggle itself is exhausting. The legalists can never live up to the expectations they project on God.
In similar fashion, a person who thinks of God as a loose cannon firing random broadsides to let us know who’s in charge will become fearful, slavish, and probably unbending in his or her expectations of others. If your God is an impersonal, cosmic force, your religion will be noncommittal and vague. The image of God as an omnipotent thug who brooks no human intervention creates a rigid lifestyle ruled by puritanical laws and dominated by fear.
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.”
I don’t know about you, but the God of grace sounds like the God of Good News that we want to share with the world. We were made in His image and if we view our God as an all-consuming force of love and grace, then our default position as Christians must also be love and grace. Anything less would be in direct opposition to the God we serve.
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