Thursday, July 02, 2009

Brennan Manning on Fear

From Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel:
"There is one barrier to love that deserves special mention because it is so crucial to the second call of Jesus Christ - fear. Most of us spend considerable time putting off the things we should be doing or we would like to do or we want to do - but are afraid to do. We avoid it because of our inordinate desire to be thought well of by others. So we come up with a thousand brilliant excuses for doing nothing. We put things off, waste the energies of life and love that are within us...

Each of us pays a heavy price for our fear of falling flat on our face. It assures the progressive narrowing of our personalities and prevents exploration and experimentation. As we get older we do only the things we do well. There is no growth in Christ Jesus without some difficulty and fumbling. If we are going to keep on growing, we must keep on risking failure throughout our lives.

When Max Planck was awarded the Nobel prize for his discovery of quantum theory, he said, "Looking back over the long and labyrinthian path which finally led to the discovery, I am vividly reminded of Goethe's saying that men will always be making mistakes as long as they are striving after something."

You know, in spite of the fact that Christianity speaks of the cross, redemption, and sin, we're unwilling to admit failure in our life. Why? Partly because it's human nature's defense mechanism against its own successful image our culture demands of us. There are some real problems with projecting the perfect image. First of all, it's simply not true - we are not always happy, optimistic, in command. Second, projecting the flawless image keeps us from reaching people who feel we just wouldn't understand them. And third, even if we could live a life with no conflict, suffering, or mistakes, it would be a shallow existence. The Christian with depth is the person who has failed and who has learned to live with it."

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