"God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we're missing it? 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. Whether you've verbalized it yet or not ... we all know something's wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn't working harder at a list of do's and don'ts--it's falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you're wildly in love with someone, it changes everything"--Cover verso.
It’s challenging because it presses that “uncomfortable button.” You know the one. It’s the you-profess-that-you-believe-this-but-you-don’t-live-it button. It hurts your feelings a little at first because the preacher is talking specifically about things you have said and things you have done. You can’t deny it, even to yourself. And then you get angry and defensive, and you don’t like the preacher at that moment. Then you say, “That message really spoke to me,” and you feel good, and you tell yourself you’re going to “be better” and change. But you go home and watch football and go to work on Monday and forget all about it before next Sunday, because… well, we like to be comfortable.
Francis Chan mashes that button over and over and over hoping that it sticks. In that discomfort and uneasiness, we know we are saved by grace, but we realize we are not doing what God has called us to do. We are not taking up our cross. Our fruits are not a testament to our beliefs. We are lukewarm.
We go to church. We try to be nice, polite people, but Chan writes, “When we face the Holy God, nice isn’t what we will be concerned with, and it definitely isn’t what He will be thinking about.” He quotes 1 Corinthians 3:13-15- Each person’s works will be tested in the fire. If it burns up, he will lose everything but himself, like a person barely escaping through the flames. Chan says, “Perhaps that sounds harsh, but harsh words and the loving truth often go hand and hand.”
Chan emphasizes that our relationship with God has to be everything in our lives. We have to literally depend on him for everything. Not say we do, and do our own thing anyway just in case He doesn’t come through. He also heavily emphasizes sacrificial giving and Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40- “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother’s of mine, you did for me.” Chan challenges us to literally treat everyone we come in contact with as though they were Jesus.
When you get to the last chapter, Chan realizes you are at that point of saying “That message really spoke to me,” and you feel good, and you tell yourself you’re going to “be better” and change, but then you’re paralyzed because you’re not really sure what it means in terms of your life. You put the book down and go back to being comfortable. Chan quotes Annie Dillard: “How we live our days is… how we live our lives.” He writes, “We each need to discover for ourselves how to live this day [Chan's italics] in faithful surrender to God as we ‘continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling’” (Phil. 2:12). Chan says we have to learn to listen to and obey God day to day “…in a society where it’s easy and expected to do what is most comfortable.”
I was horrified as the author recounted an anecdote about one his parishioners who so charitably donated his house to the church and lived with his parents. His last chapter was equally horrifying as he relayed several examples of Christian martyrs and assumes they are happier now in Heaven. I would not recommend this book and I will certainly stay clear of any more of this author's wretched works.
While the book definitely works on the whole, it is not without its flaws. The first three chapters feel as if they could have been placed in a different book. As Chan covers the magnificence of God nothing new or startling is revealed. His discussion in these chapters of theological matters are generally only skin deep. Christ’s work on the Christ is presented as traditional penal substitution model. The theory of moral influence would have been useful to the purpose of his book, but does not get discussed. His discussion of Revelation ignores the complexity of the imagery in its Old Testament context. While any discussion into this would certainly have been beyond the scope of his book, I fear his treatment promotes the opposite approach.
But this is definitely nitpicking. Chan gets rolling in chapter four when he profiles the lukewarm Christian. His observational skills are not lacking and he ably makes his point: there is no such thing as a lukewarm Christian and you might be one. His readers are encouraged to examine themselves to see if they might be “bad soil” that has killed the seed of the Word put in it. He sees the American Christian as having the thorny soil that chokes the life out of the seed with thorns of business.
From here Chan expands on the problems with how the church relates to God, but also builds a bridge to how it should be. He encourages his readers to take the plain reading of the text seriously and respond to God by being in love with Him. The last chapter provides uplifting examples of people who have done it. It provides hope not just for the reader, but for the church.
In the end Chan’s book is an easy read that I would heartily recommend to anyone. It works on a personal level. His observations on the health of the church hit home. His commentary on the lukewarm Christian is especially poignant. While he doesn’t cover many of the larger issues a book such as his might raise, it is a great starting point written from a man in love with God and in love with His church.
It’s that good. It’s beautiful, hard-hitting, easy to read, convicting, life-transforming.
Remember a time when you had fallen in love? How everything in your life seemed to change? You did some crazy stuff. THAT’S exactly how our lives should change, if we truly fall in love with God.
Here is a summary of each chapter of the book, to give you a preview. I’ll say it again, READ THIS BOOK!
This book is to convince you that by surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He will bring you the most pleasure in this life and the next.
Our problem isn’t working harder, but realizing who God is, how “crazy” his love for us is, and falling in love with God. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything in your life.
On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. It’s crazy that we think today is just a normal day to do whatever we want with. Do you live with the fact that perhaps today you will die? Life is all about God and not about us at all.
The greatest good on this earth is God. Period. God’s one goal for us is Himself. Do you believe that God is the greatest thing you can experience in the whole world?
Remember the parable of the soils. DO NOT ASSUME YOU ARE GOOD SOIL. Most American churchgoers have thorns that choke any seed that is in them. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.
Jesus clearly states over and over he wants all or nothing. We can not give him leftovers, we cannot give him only what doesn’t hurt us or only what doesn’t put us at risk.
To change our hearts, what we value, what we risk, how we act, we don’t need more guilt or more rules, we just need to be in love with God. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.
Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers.
God wants us to trust Him with abandon. He wants to show us how He works and cares for us. He doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.
People who are obsessed with Jesus care more about the Kingdom than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress, live lives that connect them with the poor, will do things that don’t make sense in terms of success or wealth, will seek humility, take joy in loving people, will be known as givers, not takers, will orient their lives around eternity, and will be characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God.
There are people who really do live with a crazy love for Jesus, and if you look at their lives, it will eliminate every excuse for not living a radical, love-motivated life for Him.
How you live your days becomes how you have lived your life.
Love. Risk. Listen to the Spirit. Be committed to live each day as if it is your last before you meet Jesus.
You probably shouldn't just think of this book as a quick read that you'll set aside and mark off your reading list. It will demand that you look into your soul and consider your alliance with the world and Christ.
You can see evidence of this in the other reviews. Instead of readers walking away feeling overwhelmed by the love of a relentless God (i.e., experiencing the radicalness of God's grace), they are walking away saying that Chan's work "challenged them" and that they must lay aside complacency, renew a walk of obedience, and be convicted. In the end, that's throwing people on the Law by saying that have to do at least this much to experience God's love. That's Law, not Gospel. So. in the battle between Law and Gospel, the Gospel almost wins in Crazy Love--almost.
The thing I like about this novel is that it really does focus on love. And it pulls away from the self-centered, egotistical spirituality that many Christians possess. Instead, it focuses on what you're doing for other people, for God, etc. It leads you down a path of much more importance than politics and petty social issues. This book reminds you of what was and is the most important function of Christianity.
This book has to be devoured bit by bit. You cannot simple sit down and read the entire book in one sitting. To do so would be like eating food and not digesting it. A terrible waste.
Chan begins by establishing God's majesty, love, and our relative humility. He goes on to show how through our "lukewarmness" we minimize God, maximize self, and how are lives seem, on the whole, little impacted by belief in God.
He goes on to encourage believers to consider what more faithful discipleship would look like-- more temporal and financial sacrifice, greater love for God and His purposes, and a willingness to do what may seem radical but what really flows from faith.
The author is Evangelical and many of the standard concerns apply-- faith only, once saved, always saved, and the like, but this should not detract from the overall excellence of the message.
Read this and David Platt's "Radical" and you will likely never be the same again.
You will be very challenged to do good works.
"Have you ever met someone who was utterly and desperately in love with Jesus? I have. My wife's grandma Clara.
I spoke recently at Grandma Clara's funeral, and I could honestly tell the mourners gathered that I had never known anyone more excited to see Jesus. Every morning Clara would kneel by her bed and spend precious hours with her Savior and Lover; later in the day, just the sight of that corner of her bed would bring joy-filled tears and a deep anticipation of the next morning spent kneeling in His presence."
Seriously? Really? I guess I'm not utterly "in love" with Jesus then, nor do I really want to be. I don't want to weep at the sight of my bed, knowing I'll be spending hours praying there sometime soon. I'm sorry, but I don't get giddy over Jesus. I can't view him as my "Lover." I guess I'm one of the "lukewarm" people Chan rips in this book. Sorry Francis, maybe in your eyes, I'll burn in hell, but I simply can't find myself "in love" with a higher being I've never seen or met in person or had an interactive verbal exchange with, etc., et al. I consider myself a Christian. Struggling, yes. Difficulties, yes. But "saved" nonetheless. More importantly, I'll bet not even 1% of 1% of Christians out there meet Chan's definition of being "in love" with Jesus. It's a silly notion. I pray, frequently. I feel like God hears me and sometimes it seems like he might be listening and interacting, but not audibly. Like I believe in air which I can't see, I believe in a god who I can't see, but I'm not freakin' "in love" with him. I believe I love God. I try to. Sometimes it's honestly hard, particularly when you see hypocritical, self righteous Christians living lives that Jesus would recoil against. I despise most self-professed Christians and feel that if Jesus were to come back today, he would view the majority of those who believe in him as being little different from those of his day, what with the dogma, the judgmental attitudes, the intolerance, etc. I guess when it comes down to it, I'd rather have an intellectual relationship with God and try to exercise faith in my belief, rather than engage in having schoolboy crushes on a supreme deity. I think you have to get high to do that. What kind of stuff is Chan smoking anyway? A loser book by a holier than thou asshole. I'm sorry I opened it.