Crazy Love by Francis Chan is not a new book by any means, but a few weeks ago, I felt God calling me to read it. As the weather has grown warmer and I’ve started running outdoors again, I’ve found that my best running companion is a sermon. While I love having music play while I work, I find that I need more distraction while I’m running, so that I’m keeping my mind engaged, rather than just having some background music. Several of the sermons I’ve been listening to lately have been by Francis Chan. I’m not sure if God has been leading me to particular sermons that have focused on many of the themes addressed in Crazy Love, or whether Chan seems to focus on the topics he’s written about in this book when speaking, but either way, when I came to read Crazy Love, I felt like the things I had been listening to were being underlined and were being placed deeper in my heart.
Chan starts Crazy Love by encouraging the reader to pray; to come before God in awe and worship Him. One of the ways he encourages this is by pointing his readers to his book’s website: www.crazylovebook.com, where he has posted the videos “Awe Factor” and “Just Stop and Think.” These videos are a great starting point for anyone interested in exploring faith, and address the nature of who God is. Go ahead and check them out – they’re a great reminder of the character of God.
As Chan progresses through the rest of his book, the theme that struck me the most – a theme that Chan speaks of often in his sermons – is the idea of being “lukewarm.” Chan refers to Revelation 3:1 in addressing this problem: “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”‘” The gist of Chan’s analysis of this verse is that the warning to the church in Sardis is a warning we can apply to the church today. We may look good from the outside – we may have the reputation of being alive – but despite that, we may be dead. It is not enough to put up a good front – to live looking like a “good Christian.” God calls us to so much more.
“Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world? Are you satisfied being “godly enough” to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others? Or can you say with Paul that you ‘want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’ (Phil. 3:10).”
God doesn’t call us to be lukewarm Christians. He calls us to be fixated on Jesus and on living by faith. To be obsessed.
We don’t like the word “obsessed,” especially in relation to faith, but as Chan says, “the idea of holding back certainly didn’t come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a joy and peace when we are fixated on Jesus, living by faith, and focused on the life to come.”
As I reflected on this, several ways in which I am not fixated on Jesus came to mind. When I teach, is my primary focus to point to God’s glory? Or am I so preoccupied with myself – wanting to look good in the eyes of the world – that I am more focused on achieving the admiration of those who hear me speak? Pride is a definite barrier to living a life obsessed with Christ. Another challenge: do I put myself in situations where God has to come through, rather than relying on what I know I can do in my own strength? Am I willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world, leaning into faith in God? Self-reliance is another barrier to living a life preoccupied with Christ. Do I live my life as a servant of Christ and a servant of those He loves? Or am I more focused on what I can get out of a situation, how I can be served and blessed? All of these things – pride, self-reliance, self-centredness – contribute towards being “lukewarm,” and that is not how I want to be before the God who demands and deserves all of me.
While Crazy Love was an easy read in the sense that it only took me a few days to get through, it was challenging in the sense that it caused me to really consider my priorities and ask myself some difficult questions. I hope you’ll take up the challenge of this book and engage what God might have to say to you through it.