I know some of you were wondering if I would ever finish this book, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I had great intentions of reading a couple of chapters a week and reviewing them in some sort of organized manner. But then life got really busy, and I didn't. This blog is long and rambles some, but hang in there. I'll close with my favorite quote from the book. Remember that yesterday I warned you that this was an uncomfortable chapter.
Until recently I thought I had a pretty decent grasp on what a Christian looks like, talks like, acts like, smells like....after all, I've been in church since 9 months before I was born. I've even been in the ministry my entire life. But gradually over the last five years as I read the Bible all the way through for the first time (yes, I'm slow...leave me alone), I began to see so many new things about following Christ. And then in the last year or so, God has just taken everything that I thought I knew, tossed it out, and pretty much started over again.
Crazy Love is one of the books that I've read this year that really challenged me about the reality of my faith. Is my faith something I proclaim or is it something that I live? Do I read the Bible for knowledge or do I read the Bible as an instruction manual? Do I really take God seriously when He gives instructions for life or do I think that some verses just don't really apply to me - especially living here in America? Are there verses that I've skimmed without even attempting to apply?
Chapter 8 - "profile of the obsessed" is the chapter that even if you do not plan to purchase the book, you should run by Lifeway, grab a copy and speed read this chapter and evaluate yourself. I was really uncomfortable with all this stuff. And prior to the read, I would've said that I was obsessed with God.
I was especially challenged about money and the poor. Jesus talked a whole lot about the poor and taking care of the poor and oppressed. He talked a whole lot about financial responsibility and good stewardship. Now, before I prayed this through, I thought I was in pretty good shape here. I tithe regularly - which money goes to the church - which in turn is funneled into appropriate people-helping channels. I even occasionally - a least a couple of times a year - do some special missions projects to help the poor. I gave up my dream home and downsized to an older home for financial reasons. I drive reasonable vehicles, and most of the time spend within my means. But then I prayed and kind of wish that I hadn't. I feel really convicted about how much of my budget I spend on me and how little I spend on others. I began to feel pretty convicted about how much stuff I own, and how much time it takes me to manage it all - time that could be better spent in ministry maybe? I feel pretty convicted about how often I swipe my credit card to buy things that I want but can't really afford. Then, I felt even more convicted about not having relationships with any genuinely poor people. NONE!!!!!
Luke 14:12-14, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers, or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." BOOM!!!! talk about conviction - IT HAS NEVER - EVER OCCURRED TO ME TO TAKE THIS VERSE LITERALLY!!!! So I began to contemplate who I could invite to such a dinner party and realized NOBODY - I Don't know anybody who really fits into this verse.
Like most Americans, I surround myself with people of comfortable means. People with good health. People who return favors and who love me in return. Good people. Nice people. And not that I should not spend time with any of these people - but something is wrong that I do not have any way of literally living out Jesus' commands about caring for the poor.
There was so much more in this chapter - stuff about service with a good attitude, humility in the face of various forms of pride, being consumed with safety at the expense of being used by God, and developing an intimate walk with Christ. Definitely worth taking 30 minutes and reading. Or just read the big print about characteristics of an obsessed person (10 minutes)!
Chapter 9 is a series of case studies about people who lived lives characterized by their Crazy Love for God. And the final chapter is simply a wrap-up of the entire book.
This book was not what I expected at all. I expected a warm fuzzy book about loving God and learning how to worship Him. Instead I feel like I just got the band-aid ripped off a large oozing wound. This was a painful read for me as I entered into it open and willing for God to change me. I feel a little overwhelmed by how far I have left to go and stunned by how far off the mark my Christian walk was for so very long. It's like getting lost in the woods at sundown and trying to find your way back to the highway.
Now, don't misunderstand me here. This was also one of the best books I've read in a very long time. I am excited about the journey that Crazy Love has inspired in my heart. A journey to find the Christianity that Jesus invented instead of the Christianity that I learned in the American Church. To sort through all the stuff that I "know" to see what is real and what needs to be left behind.
Here's a quote from chapter 8 that just absolutely sums this all up for me. Especially in light of heading out on a mission trip on Wednesday. "Jesus is asking you to love as you would want to be loved if it were your child who was blind from drinking contaminated water; to love the way you would want to be loved if you were the homeless woman sitting outside the cafe; to love as though it were your family living in the shack slapped together from cardboard and scrap metal."
Picturing that? Your child in desperate need? And how would you want somebody to love them. Praying for us all to learn to love like Jesus.