Next Stop: Transcendence
In this chapter of the Furious Longing of God, Brennan Manning defers to Hans Urs Von Balthasar who wrote,
Blessed is he who exposes himself to an existence never brought under mastery, who does not transcend, but rather abandons himself to my ever-transcending grace.
I’ve contemplated this quite a bit recently. Many popular pop culture proponents of a unification of all world’s religions deal a lot with transcendence and what it takes to achieve such a state.
The thinking certainly plays well with our human idea of gaining approval and acceptance through our hard work and dedication. We want to know we learned it. We earned our position through our dedication and commitment.
Jesus is the opposite. The more you try to earn and display your righteousness, the more you move away from His. Why? Because His righteousness is only received by faith.
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed… –Romans 3:21-25 (NASB)
I have been guilty of judging my righteousness more on the basis of what I don’t do. If I refrained from an outburst of anger, I was getting closer to God. If I staved off lust, I was maintaining righteousness. If I didn’t do fill-in-the-blank, God was happy.
What I’m seeing again is that righteousness is never about what you or I don’t do, but what He already did. I can’t boost my righteousness by maintaining my idea of godliness; all I can do is believe that I am righteous in Him.
Some would find this idea repugnant because they would fear a license to sin, but I can speak from experience, trying to earn righteousness is only a license to crash and burn over and over.
We may think it strange all these different religions seeking the path to transcendence, but if we’re honest, we’ve lived in the same mold. Whether consciously or not, we’ve thought our actions either got us closer or further away from God, depending on the nature of them. The only thing that matters though is trusting His gift of love. It’s all faith.
If there is anything lacking in the gift of righteousness that Jesus gave then we can pack it up now and head home, but if its true that “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) then we are the most blessed and dearly loved in all creation.
I’ll never master righteousness or transcendence and I don’t have to. He made me righteousness and He transcends every struggle, every battle, every sin. I trust in Him.
What do you think?
Welcome to week 6 of our book club discussion of the Furious Longing of God (disclosure) by Brennan Manning. We are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, add it to the widget below. Either way, head over to my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s blog for her thoughts. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!