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Book Recommendations for Christians: The Ragamuffin Gospel

June 13, 2024 | Maureen Wetzel

“Are you bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out?” That’s the question that sits at the top of the back cover of The Rafamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. We are called to be fully alive with Jesus, in community, and on mission. Bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out sits in dramatic opposition to being fully alive. Where do you sit? If we find ourselves with the bedraggled bunch it’s likely because we are working our way into heaven, beating ourselves up over not being or doing enough, and the results are that we wind up burnt-out. The Ragamuffin Gospel is for those of us who can find ourselves in the bedraggled bunch and need a little help finding a way out.  It is a deep dive into the gospel of grace.  

If you find yourself here, then “something is radically wrong.” (p. 15) Manning shares, “The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper.” (p. 15) In his book Manning weaves stories, experiences, and Scripture together to show how we can easily find things a bit distorted and how we can renew our minds to see the grace God has given to us. He gives us a list of what grace is, as found in Scripture.  

  • The grace of God is the totality by which men and women are made righteous (Romans 3:24, Titus 3:7). 
  • By grace Paul was called (Galatians 1:15). 
  • God bestows His glorious grace on us in His son (Ephesians 1:6). 
  • The grace of God appeared for the salvation of all (Titus 2:11). 
  • The grace of our Lord has overflowed wit the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:14). 
  • Grace is a store to which we have access through Christ (Romans 5:2). 
  • Grace is a state of condition in which we stand (Romans 5:2). 
  • It is received in abundance (Romans 5:17). 
  • The grace of God has abounded more than sin (Romans 5:15, 20-21, 6:1). 
  • Grace is given us in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:4). 
  • Paul did not receive it in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). 
  • And there are more! (37-38) 

Manning shows us through Scripture and experience that God is unwavering in His love for us--exactly how we are. We can’t work harder and earn more love. We can’t sin less and earn more love. We can’t read more self-improvement books to earn more love. God loves us exactly as we are. And Manning shares that the good news is that we can stop lying to ourselves that any of this works; that we can impact how much God loves us. We are free of that! Because of the cross God see us--He sees you--as worthy and deserving of love and He stands ready to welcome you into the Kingdom as you are.  

So what should our response to that kind of love be? Manning says, “with a God whose name is Mercy, small wonder that gratitude surpasses every other attitude along our spiritual journey. We do not charge through life unaware of the price paid for our deliverance.” (p. 222)  

If you are in the bredraggled bunch, pick up this book and see if you don’t find yourself in the stories and in the grace Jesus has for you. 


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