A Christ-Centered Time Out – Brennan Manning – Greg Albrecht
In the midst of the horrific, ongoing and seemingly, like a Frankenstein monster, growing hatred in our country and in our world – in the midst of new and deep divides between family and friends, we can find healing in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s time for a time out! We can find peace and assurance – the Lord our Shepherd will lead us to green pastures and quiet waters, preparing a table for us so that we might dwell in his house forever.
With our deep need of being still and waiting for God in mind, I was re-reading the introduction to Brennan Manning’s “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.” His words are relevant and timely, almost as if they were written in the midst of the turmoil that rages around our world today.
May Brennan Manning’s word that follow, from “A Word Before” – on pages 11-12, combine with Paul’s encouragement to each of us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16). May these words help lift us out of the gutter of politics that we may focus on Jesus – Greg Albrecht
“On the eve of his death, Jesus prayed to the Father: ‘that you love them as you loved me… so that your love for me may live in them” (John 17:23,26 NAB). The same verses in The Message read: “that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me… so that your love for me might be in them exactly as I am.”
This conjoined passage bends the mind, stuns the heart and beggars speech. It is the cause of ecstatic utterance among the saints, the source of spiritual intoxication among the mystics and, along with the incarnation, the most extraordinary demand ever made on Christian faith. It simply seems incredible.
God loves you just as much as he loves His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is what Scripture says without nuance and with utter precision. Of course, the radical leftists and the right-wing extremists, with their one-note agendas, vociferously protest, because neither can live with biblical clarity. On the right, words without nuance terrify; on the left, there must be nuance for nitpicking. The mavens of the media on both sides are apoplectic, hurling accusations of fundamentalism from the left and lunatic liberalism from the right.
Neither side knows the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. The divide between human beings and God is nowhere more apparent than here. You may like your spouse 90 percent, a colleague at work 50 percent and your attorney 20 percent. If you assume that God divides his affection with 100 percent for Jesus, 70 percent for Mother Teresa and 2 percent for you, you are thinking not of God but of yourself. As Peter von Breeman notes, “We have love, but God is love.” Love is not one of many activities that God pursues. It is his entire being.
The psalmist writes, “Pause awhile, and know that I am God” (26:10 JB). I favor the Jerusalem Bible translation because it takes time for me to be still, to come to that place of inner quiet. Stillness is more than silence and it is beyond solitude. Interior stillness is too deep for words.
Unhampered by self-consciousness, our attention is focused entirely on God and his love. In this sacred now, we immediately understand that God cannot measure his love, giving 100 percent to Jesus and a tiny fraction to us. When Catherine of Siena, a dynamic contemplative in action, was asked to describe the God of her personal experience, she cried, “He is pazzo d’amore, ebro d’amore” – crazed with love, drunk with love. Yet her words are feeble and inadequate, because Mystery is spoiled by a word.
“Concepts create idols,” wrote Gregory of Nyssa. “Only wonder understands anything.” The eminent German theologian Karl Rahner, who died in 1985, wrote: “Some things are understood not by grasping but by allowing oneself to be grasped.” As you read these pages, I pray that you allow yourself to be grasped, and that you “pause awhile” and let yourself be loved in your brokenness.
– Brennan Manning