Wednesday, February 18, 2009
A Victorious Limp
Reading from the ragamuffin Gospel today, I loved this quote from Brennan Manning; “Most of the descriptions of the victorious life do not match the reality of my own. Hyperbole, bloated rhetoric, and grandiose testimonies create the impression that once Jesus is acknowledged as Lord, the Christian life becomes a picnic on a green lawn-marriage blossoms into connubial bliss, physical health flourishes, acne disappears, and sinking careers suddenly soar. The victorious life is proclaimed to mean that everybody is a winner. An attractive twenty-year old accepts Jesus and becomes Miss America; a floundering lawyer conquers alcoholism and whips F. Lee Bailey in court; a tenth-round draft choice for the Green Bay Packers goes to the Pro Bowl.
Miracles occur, conversions abound, church attendance skyrockets, ruptured relationships get healed, shy people become gregarious, and the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. Idyllic descriptions of victory in Jesus are more often colored by cultural and personal expectations than by Christ and the ragamuffin gospel.
The New Testament depicts another picture of the victorious life; Jesus on Calvary. The biblical image of the victorious life reads more like the victorious limp. Jesus was victorious not because He never flinched, talked back, or questioned; but having flinched, talked back, and questioned, He remained faithful.
What makes authentic disciples is not visions, ecstasies, biblical mastery of chapter and verse, or spectacular success in the ministry, but a capacity for faithfulness. Buffeted by the fickle winds of failure, battered by their own unruly emotions, and bruised by rejection and ridicule, authentic disciples may have stumbled and frequently fallen, endured lapses and relapses, gotten handcuffed to the fleshpots, and wandered into a far country. Yet they kept coming back to Jesus."