Tenderness awakens within the security of knowing we are thoroughly and sincerely like by someone. How would you respond if I asked you this question: “Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you?” If you could answer with gut-level honesty, “Oh, yes, my Abba is very fond of me,” you would experience a serene compassion for yourself that approximates the meaning of tenderness. Scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by tenderness. Brennan Manning, Chapter Four
How about we start today’s blog with a multiple-choice question. Pick the one phrase from the five that best applies to you.
Which God do you serve?
1) The God who looks at me, sees a sinner, and is repulsed by my sins?
2) The God who looks at me, sees a sinner, and loves me only because He has to?
3) The God who looks at me, sees a sinner, and decides to take me on as His special project?
4) The God who looks at me, sees a sinner, and commands me to clean up my act so I can have relationship with Him?
5) The God who looks at me, sees me as His beloved son or daughter who struggles with sin, and runs to me to embrace me just as I am?
Time for an honest gut check here.
From what I’m learning about myself from Brennan Manning’s Abba’s Child, answer #5 is the most biblically-based answer to my question of which God I serve, but unfortunately, I’ve chosen to believe the lesser answers (#1 – #4) for the greater portion of my Christian life.
How about you?
Wow, I guess it’s finally time for us to truly explore the tenderness of God.
Could it be that we’ve overlooked the tenderness factor when we paint our pictures of God? Could it be that we just can’t accept the fact that our God could be that merciful? That kind-hearted? That forgiving? That full-of-grace?
To be honest, if our God is as tender-hearted and merciful as Jesus makes Him out to be, what will we Christians do with all those pent-up judgments we’ve stored up for ourselves and others? You know the ones I mean, don’t you? The one that says, “I’m (you’re) a stupid loser and I’m (you’re) not worthy of God’s tenderness.” Or how about this one? “I’ve (you’ve) had my (your) share of opportunities to get my (your) life together over the years, but since I (you) never have, God’s pretty-much given up on helping me (you) change.”
You know that one?
Well, if God is as tender-hearted as we’re hearing here in Manning’s book, we might just need to dump a bunch of those righteous judgments and trade them in for a new heart of mercy. One that looks more like God’s. One that beats with warm tenderness toward ourselves and toward others. A heart that gives and forgives. A grace that looks more amazing to us than ever before.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
Come back next time, and we’ll explore a bit more on this subject of the tenderness of God and how you and I might learn to live in ‘the wisdom of accepted tenderness.’
My prayer: Forgive me, Lord, for accepting pictures of You that truly screen out a great portion of your overwhelming tenderness. I forsake these lesser portraits of You and I choose to believe that Jesus is completely accurate when He portrays You as a God of mercy and compassion; where tenderness is the very essence of Your divine nature. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: How has my Christianity been affected by these faulty, limited views of God’s tenderness? What will I need to do in my life to replace these faulty pictures of God; pictures that show God as compassionate only because He has to be, not because He chooses to be?
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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