Perhaps with the bruises and sweat-burned vision of defeat
Comes a fork in the road that the jaded are forced to face
To one side a purely enlivened tilt toward stark truth
And to the other an abandoned farmhouse swirling on
The fringe of a black hole mentality where the poets
And the scientists hedge their bets on a rainbow of pills
With a periodic table of excuses born for
The purpose of blinding their eyes and stopping their own ears
To escape white noise blaring from their own gray matter
Pray I choose the former rather than the hollow latter
From Devotions For Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning, Pp.6
Jesus Christ is not only the center of the gospel but the whole gospel. The four evangelists never focus on another personality. Fringe people stay on the fringe, marginal men remain on the periphery. No one else is allowed to take center stage. Various individuals are introduced only to interrogate, respond, or react to Jesus. Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, Peter, Thomas, Caiphas, Pilate, and a score of others are background to the person of Jesus. He dwarfs everyone else. This is as it should be, because the New Testament is a time of salvation. When the final curtain falls, Jesus will upstage all the famous, beautiful, and powerful people who have ever lived in the course of human history. Every person will be seen as responding to Jesus. T.S. Eliot put it, “O my soul, be prepared to meet him who knows how to ask questions.” This is the proper theological understanding of the New Testament and the eschatological Lordship of Jesus Christ.
From Devotions For Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning, Pp.1
God’s love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure. Were it based on anything we do, and that “anything” were to collapse, then God’s love would crumble as well. But with the God of Jesus no such thing can possibly happen. People who realize this can live freely and to the fullest. Remember Atlas, who carries the whole world? We have Christian Atlases who mistakenly carry the burden of trying to deserve God’s love. Even the mere watching of this lifestyle is depressing. I’d like to say to Atlas: “Put that globe down and dance on it. That’s why God made it.” And to these weary Christian Atlases: “Lay down your load and build your life on God’s love.” We don’t have to earn this love; neither do we have to support it. It is a free gift. Jesus calls out: “Come to me, all you Atlases who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”
With this kind of freedom, if we really believe we have it, why are we so often cynical, miserable, and insensitive? I can recognize each of these tendencies in my life whether the focus of my insensitivity, cynicism, and misery is others or myself. Too often, when riding a wave of emotion or a bolt of tension, I lash out at others who I am supposed to love and respect as other children of God. Likewise, I let my own surface level interests, addictions, and fascinations get in the way of living, breathing relationships that really matter. I can either affirm or deny God’s presence, grace, and love in my life with each individual interaction that I have with others and with each decision, whether it results in victory or failure, that I make as an individual. If I don’t focus on this truth, no other aspect of my existence is going to matter. My friendships, family relationships, and overall life experience (short and long-term) will suffer if I can’t remember that I am His, that He has already won, that I have a lot to be thankful for, and that the best thing that I can do is share His grace and love with others.