Self rejection is the greatest enemy to the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the ‘Beloved’. Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence. Henri Nouwen
God calls us to stop hiding and come openly to Him. God is the Father who ran to His prodigal son when he came limping home. God weeps over us when shame and self-hatred immobilize us. My own journey has taught me that only when I feel safe with God do I feel safe with myself. To trust Abba who ran to His wayward son and never asked any questions enables us to trust ourselves at the very core. The decision to come out of hiding is our initiation rite into the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. It brings its own reward. We stand in the Truth that sets us free and live out of the Reality that makes us whole. Brennan Manning, Chapter One
Last time, I openly stated it, for the entire world to see and hear.
I, Marty Boller, senior pastor, blogger extraordinaire, spiritual director, and contemplative coach, am a loser.
I’ve failed miserably over the years at becoming the ‘high-rolling’ 3-B pastor the Americanized church has told me I need to be. In truth, riding the roller coaster of ministry success that focuses a pastor on (B)uilding size, the amount of (B)ucks in the offering, and the number of (B)utts in the seats has produced nothing good in me. In truth, it’s produced a failure. A wounded self!
So now that I’ve come out of the closet, openly confessing my true self, my self-rejection is finally revealed. And as one writer states, when things come to the light, they can now become light.
The Truth of God’s Gospel of Grace is this: Jesus’ sacred voice, in the midst of my failure, brokenness and woundedness, still calls me His ‘Beloved’. As a recovering 3-B pastor, God has always loved and liked me, will always love and like me, and on this very day, calls me His Beloved. And as Henri Nouwen states it here in our quotes from Brennan Manning’s classic, Abba’s Child…being God’s ‘Beloved’ will now constitute the core truth of my existence.
This is strange. Something’s happening to me.
As I’m walking the beach of the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the roar of the pounding waves, I’m starting to ‘feel’ a whole new life coming alive inside of me! Like in the touching scene from the movie, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, when the old sourpuss Grinch begins to feel his heart beating again…
“I’m feeling, Max. It’s so warm and toasty inside! What is the deal?”
My 3-B pastor’s heart, that was once two sizes too small and was focusing exclusively on becoming a ‘successful’ church-growth pastor, is now being set free. A heart that was once ruled by voices that spoke only lies and exaggerations about my self-worth, is now feeling like it has never felt before!
Too dramatic, you say?
I think not.
You see, since my sabbatical a few years back, I’ve been reading books like The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson and doing my best to respond in real to Jesus’ amazing invitation found in Matthew 11: 28-30:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
And now, here, on vacation in Florida, I’m letting the truths found in Brennan Manning’s classic, Abba’s Child into my heart. And guess what? I’m starting to see how deceived I once was by an Americanized gospel that taught me that ‘successful’ pastors work their tails off, worrying about the 3-B’s while ignoring the truer call found in Jesus’ Gospel of Grace.
Since returning home from my vacation, I’ve started summarized this Gospel this way:
THE GOSPEL OF GRACE: The Good News of God’s Unconditional Love & Acceptance.
I am loved by God. I am His beloved son.
I am liked by God. I am His forever friend.
God is right here, right now. I am not alone.
Hmm. My heart feels strangely warmed even today as I reflect on these powerful truths. How about you?
My prayer: What can I say, Lord? This Gospel of Grace overwhelms my senses. Pour out this revelation of grace upon grace on every aspect of my being. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What lesser truths have competed for the core truth of my existence? How have I settled for lesser truths or, heaven forbid, convincing lies to sit on the throne of my core existence? What needs to change in my thinking process or my theological viewpoints so that the Gospel of Grace can become front and center to my core identity?
So what is God speaking to you today as you live as Abba’s child in the midst of His Gospel of Grace?
Over an eleven-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at God’s Gospel of Grace; Exploring the Good News of God’s Unconditional Love & Acceptance. We are using Brennan Manning’s classic book, Abba’s Child – The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging as our guide. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Gospel of Grace home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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