"It's crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe - the creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor - loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss."
I received this book as a Christmas gift this year and was so excited to read it; I had heard so many great things about Chan's book since its release in 2008. But I'm the type of person that has a really bad habit of reading at least three books at one time and not finishing a one. It's a sad but true confession. So I planned to attempt to finish the ones I was currently reading and then start on this one. Well let's just say, I've yet to finish the other books....
"Crazy Love" by author, Francis Chan, sparked something in me and I just couldn't put it down. I found myself stopping after every other paragraph just to share a great passage with my sister. The things that he was talking about in the book were things we had been feeling and discussing for quite some time. The statement, "We all know something's wrong", is the first sentence he wrote in the book. And it's true, we do know something's wrong but most of time we'd rather not address it. We serve a wonderful, loving God, a God who loved us so much he gave his only son to die for our sins. He loves us with a radical, crazy love and yet we live unchanged and unaffected lives. We don't know why and we don't know how to fix it. This is the spiritual condition Francis is talking about.
The first chapter, "Stop Praying", really sets such a strong foundation for the book by reminding us that God is holy, and that we should stand in awe of him. Talking about aspects of creation that are so amazing that only God could've created them, and how it should cause us to stop and worship him. Francis goes on to say that there is an "epidemic of spiritual amnesia". We know that we should love and serve God, but we don't know how to live it out. When we love and serve Him out of obligation, like we often do, we've forgotten who He really is.
"Profile of The Lukewarm", gives a description of what a lukewarm Christian can look like and asks us to take an honest look at ourselves as we read. Each description has correlating scripture verses to back them up; I found them to be quite convicting. "Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe" good Christians" do, so they go." There are definitely descriptions in this chapter that I think we all can relate to and see in ourselves. If we're willing to honestly examine our hearts, it can serve as a great tool to gage where we are spiritually.
In the next chapter Chan makes a statement that could be seen as somewhat controversial. When I read it I couldn't help but wonder what other people thought of it. He states, "As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron, there's no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven." To me that was such a strong and blunt statement that I didn't quite know what to think of it at first. However, Francis goes on to discuss the scripture about being lukewarm to help explain why he believes this. And after reading, I must say, I think it's often a truth we over look and miss completely.
One thing he is really good at is pointing out simple truths that just really hit you over the head. Francis is not only an author but a pastor as well. I thought it was interesting when he talked about how people always seem to ask him the same questions. Questions about how much they can get away with, what sins they can commit and still get to heaven. He says that these types of questions are tragic to him because they reveal that we are way more concerned about getting to heaven than we are about truly loving Jesus. He gives the scripture in John 14:15 in which Jesus says, "If you love me you will obey what I command". He then says, "And our question quickly becomes even more unthinkable: Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus? I don't see anywhere in scripture how the answer to that question could be yes." This was such an amazing and eye opening truth to me! How often do we disobey God with our lives and yet still claim to love him with our mouth? But if we love him, we will obey him. And how can we be followers of Christ if we don't love him?
Now, I think it's important to mention that Francis makes a point to say that he doesn't want to make people doubt their salvation. That's definitely not the intent of this book. He makes sure to say how we all have lukewarm elements in our lives, and that's what God's grace and mercy is for. He isn't saying just because we mess up we're not really genuine Christians. But that the distinction is a person who "perpetually moves toward Christ".
But the question after reading all of this is, what do we do about our lukewarm state? Francis believes the answer lies in love. Noting that the answer isn't in "trying harder", but in truly loving our Savior. He mentions early in the book that when he was younger he would try to read his bible, pray, and stay away from sin...but he'd fail time and time again. And in turn, end up feeling guilty and distant from God. Sounds familiar doesn't it? Francis believes instead of repeating that cycle and "trying harder", we need to draw close to God by actively pursuing him everyday, letting him change us. He also said we should confess our lack of love to God and ask him to help us love him; which will result in a new cycle. A cycle of more love that results in more prayer, which will result in more love. I loved that concept! As long as we are actively pursuing him we won't fall into sin.
A couple other cool things to note about "Crazy Love" are: The book begins with an incredible forward by recording artist, Chris Tomlin. It was really cool to read his thoughts on the book and Francis Chan. Also, a chapter towards the end, "Who Really Lives That Way", shares true stories of people who have and are living out a crazy love for God. Rich Mullins and Shane Claiborne are among those included.
I really feel like I've learned so much from this book and I desperately desire to put it into practice. In "Crazy Love" Francis Chan offers a new idea of Christianity that focuses more on truly loving God rather than "trying harder", doing just enough to get by, or getting to heaven. A Christianity that is not content to be lukewarm; but rather one that seeks to pursue him daily, praying for more love. In doing so we will find a more fulfilling relationship with Him than we ever thought possible, a relationship that changes us and how we live. By actively loving and pursuing Him daily we will be living in the middle of the miraculous, crazy love of God.
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