Following his work on the unconditional love of God in "The Wisdom of Tenderness, " bestselling Christian writer Brennan Manning now turns to the life and work of Jesus to find an answer to what he believes is the most pressing spiritual problem of our age: self-hatred. The damage caused by this problem is immense. We project it onto God, believing God could never love us because we are unlovable, or we expect an unattainable perfection of ourselves and are left drowning in shame. But Manning warns us that we can't look to ourselves if we want to understand God's love: "The Love of the Father for his children plunges us into mystery, because it is utterly beyond the pale of human experience."
The answer to the problem of self-hatred is better understood when we look to the life of Jesus to illuminate the mystery of God's love and compassion. Manning shows us that our persistent self-hatred is rooted in a "script" founded in a faulty understanding of the nature of divine love and a lack of clear understanding of the person and message of Jesus. "In the eyes of the Master whom we have failed, we detect the infinite compassion of the Father and see revealed, in Jesus, the human face of God," he writes. In bringing us a clearer glimpse of Jesus, he helps us to rewrite this script of self-hatred by patterning our lives after the examples of Jesus on earth: his healing work, stories of deliverance, liberating prayer, integrity of self-acceptance, and all-encompassing compassion. Manning also takes us beyond the personal predicament of self-hatred, asking, "What would the church be like if we erred from an excess of compassion rather than from a stingy and legalistic lack of it?"