I have mentioned my affection for the writings of Brennan Manning before. Next to the Bible, his books have had the most profound impact on how I view God. He has also shaped my understanding of how God views me. I have often joked that there are Calvinist, Wesleyans, Arminianist, etc., but I am a Manningist. Every one of his works oozes with love and compassion. He is sometimes charged with not talking enough about sin. However, I don’t see how that charge makes sense because he speaks on it frequently.
I have just finished up reading The Furious Longing of God for a second time. You can see the fingerprints of that book in the sermon that I preached yesterday (Link to that sermon). Here is a quote from the end of the book that has really stuck with me:
The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.
We must never lose sight of the insanity of the gospel. The sheer idea that we are so loved by God that he would send his perfect son, who is 100% God, to die for us doesn’t make sense. It goes against all human reasoning. And yet, that’s exactly what happened.
That kind of love should spur us on to love others with that sort of “absurdity,” as Manning calls it. Jesus commands us in John 13:34 to, “Love others as I have loved you.” We are to be as free and giving of our love as Christ is. We are not to withhold our love from anyone. This is the only characteristic that Christ says will define us as his followers.
For better or for worse, we are God’s ambassadors in the world (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are his hands and feet. How we treat, speak, and interact with other will be a direct reflection on God. It is our duty to make sure that we are reflecting his love for all people. We are to love God, embrace his love, and share that love with all that whom we meet. “This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian.”