So in the rush and fuss of life I nearly missed the news that Brennan Manning passed away on Friday. I guess I can’t say I was caught off guard by this since Brennan was 79 years old and in deteriorating health, still I cant help but be deeply moved by his passing. I hesitate as I write this, because I know I’ll never be able to write anything that will capture what I want to say about this man. In my life, Brennan Manning is a giant among men.
I struggle to think of any teacher who was more influential and impacting in my Christian walk than Brennan Manning was. His relentless focus on the love of God really helped me to understand just how Good the God we worship is. The way Brennan Manning was able to stay optimistic and loving even during tales of his child abuse and alcohol addiction always managed to shake me to my core. Brennan had no illusions to the fact that he was a broken man who really needed grace. He was passionate and he spoke with a gentle authority. If you ever read any of his books, listened to his sermons, or engaged him in a conversation about God he made sure that you understood before all was said in done that God loves you no matter who you are and what you have done.
Brennan had a little saying he always used that I have adopted and used many times in my ministry.
“Let yourself be loved by God, as you are, not as you should be… because you’ll never be as you should be.”
– Brennan Manning
He knew that we were all sinners and in desperate need of grace, but he never stopped there. He never left people squirming in the realization of their brokenness. Manning, in ways much more eloquently than I could hope to master, never failed to let you know that while we were all “ragamuffins,” God still loved us and that gave each and every one of us immense value.
Manning stressed grace and mercy over and over to the point that some people got sick of it, but in spite of what anyone else thought Manning could never get enough of the love of God. Brennan Manning had this raw sort of brutal love about him that I wish to emulate to those I minister to. He was never soft on sin, but he was never stingy on Grace either. Manning knew how to call a spade a spade and love that spade regardless. I’ve rarely ever come across a man who could so reflect the love of God as Manning did.
Even with this seemingly Godly sense of love and mercy that Manning carried about himself he never came off as anything more than a man who was tragically human. I was tempted to say that Manning was not ashamed of his sin, but that would be a lie. Manning was deeply ashamed of his flaws and failures, he simply didn’t try to hide them the way most people do. He was the type of man who owned up to his mistakes and tried to turn them around into a powerful testimony. Manning knew that he was not the only person ever to suffer from addiction, anger, selfishness, pettiness, and cruel desires, and he made a conscious choice to be honest about his sin. He never tried to paint himself as a holy person, and he wanted it known by everyone that he was a sinner saved by the grace and love of God. Manning was the type of real ministers that only come around every once in a blue moon. He’s the type of minister that I wish I could be, and hope to be.
My heart is greatly pained at the thought of such a great man leaving us, but my spirit leaps with joy knowing that Brennan will have all of eternity to bask in the unending and unfiltered love of God that he so deeply sought after in life.
To God be the Glory.