Monday, December 07, 2009

Brennan Manning on the Signature of Jesus

I've been reading and discussing Brennan Manning's wonderful sequel to The Ragamuffin Gospel, The Signature of Jesus. 

If you don't know Manning, he is a former Franciscan priest who witnesses for Jesus. I love Manning, but I will often introduce him to others with the statement that "Manning is a drunk and a liar."  But as he points out, Jesus does not choose perfect disciples. Those of us whom He calls are often anything but perfect.

He makes the point that Jesus lived for others. "He was not simply called but actually was a friend of publicans and sinners. He befriended the rabble, the riffraff of his own culture. 'One of the mysteries ... is this strange attraction of Jesus to the unattractive ... his strange love for the unlovely.'" 

I think of this often when I encounter the poor, who are usually not as photogenic as even a sympathetic Hollywood makes them out to be. No, they are smelly and they have horrible habits, and they are decidedly "unlovely." 

But Jesus loves them and loved them and spent time with them and I think he enjoyed Himself.

Speaking of Jesus' Maundy Thursday role as the washer of the feet of the disciples (in which Christ takes on the role and function of a slave), Manning observes

"What a shocking reversal of our culture's priorities and values! To prefer to be the servant rather than the lord of the household; to merrily taunt the gods of power, prestige, honor, and recognition; to refuse to take oneself seriously; to live without gloom the lackey's agenda -- these are the attitudes and actions that bear the stamp of authentic discipleship."
(Manning, TSOJ p. 96)

He continues, 

"Jesus' ministry of service is rooted in his compassion for the lost, lonely, and broken. Why does he love losers, failures, those on the margin of social respectability? Because the Father does."

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