Brennan Manning is a former U. S. Marine as well as a former Franciscan priest. He is also a recovering alcoholic. In 1990, his book The Ragamuffin Gospel was published. This is a book about grace — not grace in theory but grace in practice. In fact, he believes that is a problem with the American church today. We often say we believe in God’s grace while we practice something else.
Somewhere, I bought a used copy of this book. Little did I know this was an autographed copy. On the first page of the book, Manning had written a brief note to someone named Kathy. The note reads, "To Kathy — From one ragamuffin to another — Brennan Manning."
The following is an excerpt (hear the echo of Romans eight):
The question which the gospel of grace puts to us is simply this: Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? What are you afraid of?
Are you afraid that your weakness could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.
Are you afraid that your inadequacies could separate you from the love of Christ? They can’t.
Are you afraid that your inner poverty could separate you from the love of Christ? It can’t.
Difficult marriage, loneliness, anxiety over the children’s future? They can’t.
Negative self-image? It can’t.
Economic hardship, racial hatred, street crime? They can’t.
Rejection by loved ones or the suffering of loved ones? They can’t.
Persecution by authorities, going to jail? They can’t.
Nuclear war? It can’t.
Mistakes, fears, uncertainties? They can’t.
The gospel of grace calls out: Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord…. Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love Jesus Christ that is stronger than death endures forever. In the end, it is the one thing you can hold on to.
(Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 86)