Having read The Ragamuffin Gospel, and loving every bit of that book, I wasn’t sure what else could be covered in this book that Brennan Manning didn’t already do in Ragamuffin Gospel. Well, just as Ragamuffin helped give me a fresh perspective on the unlimited grace of God, The Wisdom of Tenderness gave me a fresh perspective on the tenderness of God. Tenderness, such a sappy word, don’t you think? No, we’re not talking about that kind of tenderness. To quote Manning in the book, he says about this:
The gentle Spirit dwelling within us is the deepest expression of tenderness-indeed, the Spirit-filled Christian is one whose heart is overflowing with tenderness- and it represents the full healing of our pain through his coming to us. What is the true meaning of tenderness? One must be careful here: we corrupt our sense of reality by sentimentalizing the concept. When such excess erupts, the soul is poisoned by romantic emotions and tenderness degenerates into mawkishness.
If you struggle with the concept of God loving you as you are, flaws and all, then read this book. With brutal honesty about his own sin and brokenness, Manning isn’t afraid to go into detail about himself. And in that, you feel like you’re chatting with a close friend, someone who won’t judge you for who you are. Maybe if we all learned to share that kind of honesty with each other, and to accept each other the same, we’d have another reformation.
The point of the book can be summarized when Manning writes:
The crux of this little book can be stated briefly and succinctly. In a moment of naked honesty, ask yourself, “Do I wholeheartedly trust that God likes me?” (Not loves me, because theologically God can’t do otherwise.) “And do I trust that God likes me, not after I clean up my act and eliminate every trace of sin, selfishness, dishonesty, and degraded love; not after I develop a disciplined prayer life and spend ten years in Calcutta with Mother Teresa’s missionaries; but in this moment, right now, right here, with all my faults and weaknesses?” If you answer without hesitation, “Oh yes, God does like me; in fact; he’s very fond of me,” you’re living in the wisdom of accepted tenderness.