Or, do something for a while but then drift back to the same old mold, conforming to the surrounding culture rather than transforming it?
When I finally realized a few years ago that it was exactly that pattern which clearly defined my life, I was humbled and shamed by the shallowness of my "faith." It drove me to do what Jon brought up (chapter 6 comment) -- to ask God for help to desire Him, to the degree that my life reflects, on a day-to-day basis, the reality that Christ has given me a new life in Him.
Pastor Francis' advice is tried and true -- expressing a "crazy love" for God is something we do in the seemingly small matters of everyday living. If we keep thinking about love for God as a big, spectacular thing we'll do for Him next summer, or when we start making a steady income, or when we find that perfect partner, or own a house big enough to entertain guests... we'll never get there, because we will have missed the whole point of what it means to love God.
Consider and actually live as though each person you come into contact with is Christ.
Is this what I want to be doing when Christ comes back?
How will you answer the King when He says, "What did you do with what I gave you?"
challenging words. wise words. fruitful words, if heeded.
At this point, having read through these ten chapters (at least, that's what I'm assuming!) and having contemplated His great love for you and the response He desires from you... what comes to mind? What is (at least) one take-away lesson that you will apply (or maybe even have been applying already)?
This was my second time reading it, but I'm glad to have done so, and at a slower pace too. I've been challenged to re-examine my motives for why I'm doing what I'm doing (studying at seminary and serving my local church). During these last few months, I have sometimes despaired of whether my "efforts" are worth anything, even by God's standards, and whether I shouldn't be off doing other things which are more fun and self-rewarding. But the truths outlined in this book have consistently brought me back to a right understanding of who God is and who I am. Studying and serving are not things I "have" to do, but things I GET to do. My redeemed life is about making much of my Saviour, not making much of me.
Years down the road, I hope to still be in contact with all of you somehow, and to hear wonderful stories of how God has kept your life from being stinky manure and has instead used you as fertilizing manure. But it all starts today. Choose to live for Him!
*p.s. make sure you don't miss out on the back matter - a mini-interview transcript and a preview to Francis Chan's other great & helpful book, "Forgotten God." The next whale tale? ;)
Who really lives that way?
Probably just crazy people who got extra doses of the Spirit for whatever reason.
I have since learned these last few years...there ARE real people amongst us who do live like that. And they are crazy all right!
Crazy in love with the one who crazily loves them.
I find these little snapshot bios very inspiring...because it reminds us that such a sold-out life for Jesus is totally attainable. No matter what your background, character, and giftings... God can use you magnificently, for His glory...if you let Him.
Do you care to be one of the "faithful few" who are commended by Jesus for following Him wholeheartedly?
The cost is not small, right? Most of the choices you'll have to make (or have made, if you're already on this path) will bring pain, hardship, maybe ridicule and suffering. Maybe little things like saying no to a late-night movie so you can wake up early enough to spend time with Him before heading out the door. Maybe big things like declining a lucrative job offer so you can work a less demanding job and use those extra hours to build relationships with your neighbours. Or using your savings money to adopt a child. Or choosing to live in an undesirable neighbourhood.
In a few decades, I really, really hope we can all email/facebook/whatever-it-will-be-by-that-time each other and see one another's lives as little bios that can go into this chapter!
Do you know anyone whose life might fit in with the other stories in this chapter?
What do you want your bio to say?
The descriptions in this chapter were so convicting for me. I am not a risk-taker. Anyone who has known me for even a short while would attest to that. I like to be comfortable, to have my future set out, and to be safe. This was especially coming to surface last night as I was looking through apartment options for next year. I found myself getting obsessed with the "criminal activity" around all the prospective apartments. Yes, safety is important, but as Francis Chan says in this chapter, we shouldn't make it our top priority. How would my decision look if I prayed that God be glorified even in my housing situation? What if instead of spending all my time looking at maps provided by the county police, I prayed and considered how I could tangibly love God and others through this decision?
I was convicted to pray over so many areas of my life while reading through this chapter, and I believe all of you were convicted as well. So, was there a particular characteristic of "the obsessed" that stood out to you? What were your thoughts as you read through the descriptions?
- written by Na Young
I love how this chapter forced me to get into the nitty-gritty of how I live out what I claim to believe ... it's not hard to do a quick assessment of where my time, money, energy, thoughts are going every day. And that reveals so much about where my heart is.
I am also encouraged that, although my heart has many rotten spots, I am not left to rot. God is slicing away those rot spots. Alongside conviction comes the promise that God Himself will help (is helping) His children make increasingly wiser choices as we grow in maturity. I am encouraged as I consider the "giants of the faith" in Hebrews and realize that they were real people with real lives and real struggles - just like you and me, although they passed from this world a little while before we came on the scene. And they were guided to become strong men and women of faith by a real God, who has not passed from this world.
Every time I have surrendered something (an area of my life, a relationship, a decision...) to this living God, He gives back more than I gave away (which is really very little, each time). Without fail. Yet at times, I still find myself foolishly struggling to give more the next time I have the opportunity to do so. Must ask for help continually to hold things more loosely...
One question for this chapter -- What are you doing right now that requires faith?
Lord, teach us to spend this life on things that honour You.
How deep is my own love for God? Would I be happy in a heaven where everything was “pleasant”, yet I didn’t have God? Do I love the gifts of life more than the One who gives them? These are some questions that I was asking myself as I read this week's chapter of Crazy Love. More than that, these are questions that I have been asking myself for the past couple of weeks, as I have been placing my own desires and needs on the throne of my life. In the midst of focusing solely on my relationships, grades, and career goals, I would offer God half-hearted offerings of prayer and worship out of guilt and fear. As Francis Chan calls it, I was trying to buy and prove my love to God, as opposed to truly loving him the way I ought (p 102).
But how can we genuinely love someone, if our wicked hearts are not naturally inclined to do so? Chan offers the answer towards the end of the chapter. We tell God honestly how we feel. We confess what we have been idolizing. We repent. We tell God that we want to desire Him above all things, and ask Him to take control of our lives (p 110-111).
The prayer that the author ends the chapter with reminds me of a promise God gives us in 1 John:
Praise God for His love for us, His goodness, and His faithfulness!
1. What are some things that you have been choosing lately over God? What supposed “needs” are you trying to satisfy with these pursuits and how would these needs be properly resolved through loving God?
2. In what ways have you been trying to buy (pay God back for what He’s done) or prove (make up for past failures) your love for God? Take some time to re-evalulate your spiritual life and church service and make sure you are doing things out of a true love for God and others.
3. What is an example in your life when you realized that you are more satisfied by giving and sacrificing for others than by having your own needs met?
Not when it comes to matters of eternal significance.
In this chapter, Pastor Francis digs even deeper into what it means to be a "lukewarm Christian," and presents a relatively shocking truth -- no such person exists.
On one hand, it is shocking, because ... well, we are accustomed (it is our custom, it is our culture) to lean on "easy-believism" = Jesus is a great addition to your life, pretty wallpaper; but to let God tear down your house and replace the main structure with Jesus?! No thanks... that's for the super-holy.
On the other hand, it is not shocking when you consider that the myth-buster is within reach of every single one of us -- crack open your Bible & see for yourself the kind of radical commitment Christ requires of His followers.
This chapter came as a much-needed splash of cold water for me. God taught me this week, using some very painful lessons, that I had started to let the wrong motivations drive my studies. Yes, even the study of Him & His Word! My heart is an idol factory.
When I left Taiwan to come here, the Lord spurred me on with the very same verses quoted throughout this chapter --
Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. -- Luke 14:33
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. -- Matthew 16:24-25
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? -- Luke 9:25
My answer about a year ago was, "Got it, God - I will follow you anywhere and do anything you ask of me." I was fired up. nahm sayn??
(a year ago I also would NOT have used those last two sentences :P)
And then over the months, other things crept in, and other idols were set up. I didn't even realize my bondage until God smashed them last week, and I felt crushed as many of my self-concocted dreams shattered. But through the idol-smashing & through this chapter, my Father showed me that I had turned away from a full commitment to Him, that I needed to repent and let those verses sink into my life again. So for that, I am very grateful.
2 questions (the first more for personal reflection) -
- What is your goal when you consider your relationship with God? If your goal is not God Himself, consider seriously the high possibility that you are not in a right relationship with Him at all.... and if that concerns you, address it before God himself, on your knees...
- Fill in the blank with your own words or with words you hear quite often from others: Can I ____________________ and still go to heaven? What does this question reveal about our attitude towards following Jesus?
In this chapter, Francis Chan challenges us with descriptions of a "lukewarm" Christian. After reading each example, I found myself saying "Yup, that's me" every time. It's one thing when I know that I'm unworthy, and it's another when someone tells me that, as a lukewarm Christian, I am not even fit for manure. This revealed to me a glimpse of the life that God requires of me and how much I fall short.
One of the biggest things that stuck out at me while reading was the verse Matthew 7:21 which states, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
It's a pretty simple verse, but I think what it made me realize about myself was that I thought my salvation was assured and the Christian life I was living was sufficient just because I did and said what other "good" Christians were doing and saying. As Pastor Francis wrote, as a lukewarm Christian, I live my life comparing it to others' and not what is required of me in the Bible. As Philippians 3:10 states, knowing Christ is not just knowing about his death and resurrection but it's also partaking in his sufferings and becoming like him in his death.
On those rare occasions I do something extra-Christiany like donating to the poor or giving up a day to serve the homeless, I do feel pretty satisfied with myself and believe that God is satisfied, but in reality, it's not even close. God requires us not to just give up more of ourselves, but to give up ALL of ourselves.
I am NOT good soil. I am soil filled with thorns. I agree with Crazy Love in that as American Christians, we do want God, but we also want so many other things in life like money, careers, respect, relationships, etc. I have to admit that no matter how much I say I prioritize God in my life, I cannot honestly declare that I love Him so much that I am willing to give up food or comfort or my career or my family. Of course, these things may not be inherently evil in themselves, but when they take up our time and attention from God, are we able to cut them our of our lives?
In what ways are you a lukewarm Christian?
What verse jumped out the most at you in this chapter?
What changes will you make in your life based off of your reaction to this chapter?
-- written by Jon