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"God loves you as you are, not as you should be, because none of us are as we should be." – Brennan Manning

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that God loves us. Because, honestly, why should he?

Like spoiled, petulant children, we purposefully ignore His word for our own gain, creating generalizations and rationalizations for our hates, lusts, lies and blasphemes, and for what? It leaves us feeling like wretched lost souls, and then, when it all falls apart, we have the gall to blame Him for our piss-poor decisions.

The ironic thing, however, is that no matter how much we push God away, He’s still there, with open arms, waiting for us to take this love He has for us. It’s an infinite love that in no way could our simian minds ever truly quantify, no matter how hard we try to, especially when using only our broken human references of what we believe love is as a diseased frame of reference.

There is absolutely no reason for God to love us. Yet, in spite of all the hurt we cause Him—and yes, we do hurt Him—He still loves us. Sin has made sure we can never be the best we can be; God knows this and because of it (and even for it), His capacity for forgiving us, his eternal grace, is immeasurable. So then why must we put a quantitative cap on our love for Him?

“In the end it won’t matter if you have a few scars, but it will matter if you didn’t live.” – Rich Mullins

Christian singer Rich Mullins, who became a worldwide superstar with his hit “Awesome God,” was as troubled as they come until the day he died. From depression and alcoholism to loneliness and insecurity, Mullins spent as much time broken on the floor as he did on stage behind a piano. But, throughout it all, he never gave up on the concept that God loved him, rough edges and all.

It’s a message that is portrayed with heartbreaking honestly in the biopic Ragamuffin (Color Green Films). Never shying away from the darker aspects of Mullins’ life, the film captures him as a child prodigy with a cold father who broke him down continually. As an adult, he seeks solace in the actual Word of God, refusing to conform to the manmade tenets of the church that were made to hurt and shame those that couldn’t live up to the high-standards of any given cliquish congregation. It made him as many enemies as it did fans.

Clad in dirty jeans and a white tee-shirt, Michael Koch gives a brave portrayal of a revered Christian performer whom I’m sure many would rather not see this darker side of. But it’s that side that makes Ragamuffin so important for hurting Christians to see; it’s a side we all carry and God knows this. It’s a side that we only see as part of a redemptive process in many films, not as an absolute personality trait. Kudos to director David Leo Schultz for maintaining a truthfulness not only about Mullins, but human nature as well.

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” - Brennan Manning

It’s a truthfulness that is explored even deeper in Schultz’s follow-up Brennan (Color Green Films), based on the life of Brennan Manning, former Catholic priest, part-time alcoholic, full-time curmudgeon and author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, the book that influenced Mullins’ work almost as much as the Bible itself.

Based around the idea that Jesus’ gospel is one of grace and that modern Christianity has forced us to tally our sins and failures to such a point that, for many, it’s easier just to give up belief in Him than to face so-called judgement, when, in reality, already knows this and more about us; God made us and knows we’re broken and unworthy and still loves us with an undying passion despite our insecurities and inadequacies. It’s our job to believe that.

It’s a revolutionary idea, to be sure, and even more so when we get to know him via this (what I’m guessing is a) semi-fictionalized biopic—more of a slice of life, really—starring Hal Alpert as the bedraggled Manning, who hitches a ride with a depressed drifter to New Orleans (director Schultz), facing their demons together at every mile marker while fully learning to accept the “raging fury” that is God’s love.

As someone who has been on the floor in pain more than on his knees in prayer, even though the story is ultimately dark from the outside, the abiding message of hope resonates soulfully and, as Manning serves a fiery mission statement for the Ragamuffin movement from a hijacked pulpit in the film’s beautifully heartwrenching finale, each line, each phrase, and each train of thought will leave only the most cynical amongst us unmoved and, even worse, unloved.

If only you knew the truth, hoss.

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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