Ragamuffin Gospel: #11 – A Touch of Folly

Chapter 11

The Power of a Great Affection

Manning relates a story from the archives in New Orleans: instead of being “born again,” those who came to know a personal relationship with Jesus Christ would say, “I was seized by the power of a great affection.” This is the phrase that describes an authentic and complete conversion to Christianity.

During his visit with an Amish family, Manning describes his surprising welcome on his arrival. I was immediately drawn to a great worship song, How He Loves Me.  The song was written by John Mark McMillan who includes the controversial phrase, “heaven meets earth with a sloppy wet kiss.”  Check out his blog post that briefly explains how David Crowder modified the words just a bit. Link. It’s controversial because it seems like we Christians don’t like things that are sloppy, out of order, not up to our standards. Not that I’m endorsing chaos, but I must agree we are looking more like the “frozen chosen” than those freed from the bondage of sin!

The truth of the Gospel…deserves to be accepted or rejected for what it is: an answer to the most fundamental questions a person may ask: Is life absurd or does it have a purpose?

Jesus came that we all might find the joy of life in unity with God. There is no other way for this to happen but through Christ. This is a scandalous, insane position from the world’s perspective. Jesus knew that’s how we would be perceived and addressed that in the Gospels, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

I wholeheartedly agree with Manning’s thesis that our modern, well organized religion is missing the crazy love that Jesus offers. We get so wrapped up in process that we forget the very people Christ came to save–the very people He commanded that we go find and offer His gift of salvation.

Yet there are still precious few of us with sufficient folly to make the mad exchange of everthing for Christ

I’m still trying to understand the book of Hosea, the craziest book in the Bible. Seriously. It completely makes sense that Manning points to this book and offers an exercise in prayer and contemplation that is truly humbling when you think about Hosea. He suggest we read through Hosea 11:1, 11:3-4, 11:8-9 and substitute our name in place of Israel to make this a personal story.

A few more readings to support this crazy approach: Hosea 2:14-15, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:15-16, Romans 8:31-32.

Deb Federico, the Community Outreach Director at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey, CA, challenged me with an exercise that comes to mind here. At the end of your quiet time, the time you prayer earnestly and listen to the Lord speak to you, express your thought in one or two words. What words come to mind? “We win,” I responded the first time I thought about this. We win because we are on God’s team. We can’t lose. That doesn’t give us the right to talk trash; rather, that requires that we spread the Gospel, as commanded, because there is no limit to the number of people who can be part of God’s family. The “we” is huge, it needs to grow, and people will think we’re crazy for having the audacity to suggest we have the answer.

Lord, help me to show the world I am crazy enough to believe You have provided the way, the truth and the light in Jesus Christ. Keep me from hiding behind procedures and policies that prevent people from accepting the folly of your gracious gift.

 

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