In this summer’s book club selection, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning begins Chapter Four with a story of a man who complains to his doctor of a raging headache. The doctor asks him a series of questions to the tune of: “Are you drinking, smoking, carousing, or sinning in general?” The man, indignant, replies, “I never touch the filthy stuff and I’m in bed by ten every night!” The doctor smiles and diagnoses his ailing by saying, “Your trouble is you have your halo on too tight. All we need to do is loosen it up a bit.” I think we can all identify with this story. Sometimes we work a little too hard for our salvation and with each deed accomplished we tighten the screws on our halo, becoming even more unbearably self-righteous.

We don’t realize that God doesn’t mind if our halos are loosened or hanging askew. He doesn’t scoff at our bent up, dinged up halos, because He knows that only when our halos are tarnished do we realize just how much we need Him.

Manning calls it the “Tilted Halo” society.

There are no dues to pay, no special talents or affiliations necessary, and no net-worth minimum to apply to this divine society. You just need to trust in God, admit your poverty of spirit, and be honest with yourself. For some of us, we would prefer to just pay the dues!

Why? Because trusting in God is hard, admitting we’re anything but perfect is difficult, and being honest about who we are and renouncing our tendency for self-justification is dang-near impossible. It’s easier to just do it ourselves, count ourselves blessed, and avert our eyes to our failings.

Luckily for us, God loves a sincere heart and everything else is background music. He knows we’ll never get it right. He understands our prayers will often be one-syllable pleadings. He knows that honesty with self is not always attainable, but he loves the sinner despite the sin. No matter what you do, you are loveable because He loves YOU.

So, don’t worry if your halo is off kilter. The Gospel of Grace will straighten it and you out!