Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy Love: First Impressions

About a year ago a friend of mine suggested I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. At the time, I must admit, I was skeptical. I was skeptical because I am always skeptical of best selling, highly popular books and pastors. If you draw large crowds in the form of a mega church, I’m probably not coming…unless of course, you’re Charles Spurgeon. I figured Chan was just another Rick Warren or Joel Olsteen.

Either way, over the course of the year I would listen up as I heard the name Francis Chan just to see what he was all about. In the last few weeks, I started to hear about him stepping down from the pastoral position at his church. Apparently, this happened in October. What interested me most was why he stepped down. Basically, Chan said his life of fame and comfort was not lining up with scripture. He decided to step away and spend time with Christians who were being persecuted and whose lives were the more biblical model of Christianity. So, he went to Asia. I believe the first news article I read mentioned he realized when he heard “Francis Chan” more in his church than he heard the “Holy Spirit,” he knew something was wrong. Anything that calls Christians to be extreme or radical peaks my interests so I bought the book.

I am half way through the book and I must say I am impressed. I don’t believe my doctrinal views line up with his, but I believe it will be very convicting and point out how little we actually obey the commands of Jesus and therefore, how little we actually love Jesus.

Are we willing to lay down everything to follow Him? How many times did Jesus tell us to feed the poor? Didn’t he say when you have a feast to not invite those you know but instead the poor, the blind, the lame, the crippled? Isn’t it true that God really only gets the “leftovers” of what we have to give? We live in crazy comfort and then feel good when we give a little money here or there. And truth be told, we don’t give with love but with pride and judgment.

The questions then are these… are we truly followers of Christ if we refuse to lay down it all and only give God what keeps us in comfort? Are we only carrying the label of Christian while hardly living the life? We can praise God for the grace he provides for His children, but isn’t faith without works dead?

I’m in no way advocating a works based “salvation,” as I believe in grace alone through Christ alone.  However, Christ’s words do resound in my mind and in my heart… “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me.” (Luke 18:22) So far, I believe Chan is right. We’re offering up leftover sacrifices to a God that wants all or nothing.

Examine yourself. (2 Cor 13:5) Chan echoes my own words just a few weeks ago, “‘Do I really believe this?’ Because if we truly believed in His Word wouldn’t our lives look much different?”

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say that I’m even close to obeying this first and greatest commandment…


Ma ~ said...

I'm also leery of big time personalities, but like you said, C.H. was also a big wig.

I'm curious to what doctrinal issues you may have with him. I really don't know anything about his ministry.

Sarah : ) said...

I too, have been wary of Francis Chan, and haven't read his books because of it. But I have watched some of his youtube stuff and have read some of his posts, sometimes agreeing, and sometimes leaving with sort of a confusion of what to think. I admire his passion, and believe his attempt to remind people of the dedication that is fitting and right for Christians is admirable. I'm just not sure if how he's going about it is sending the message clearly. I would love to know more about his doctrinal beliefs.

Michelle said...

Ma- I know. I was floored when I was reading some biographical stuff on C.H. and it noted the thousands and thousands that came to see him and how they had to continuously change venues.

As far as doctrinal issues, I have looked but never actually found his "statement of faith," if you will. In reading the book, I could tell he has the "accept Christ" mentality and I shy away from that myself. I believe it gets into what I believe as false doctrine of "saying the sinners prayer" and you're saved. HOWEVER, he did not come out and say this and I can tell he is a humble man. In other news articles I read he was very adament to speak about his dealings with pride and sin in his life. He spoke of himself as "weak" and "unholy." These are some things that drew me to his book.

Sarah- ditto. He has some good stuff on youtube. I believe what he is doing is amazing. He gives most all of his money to charities and those in need. (This wasn't in the book or said by was noted by another source when I was researching him.) You are right, he has an amazing passion for what he believes God is moving him towards. His whole message is "dying to self" and "loving others." At least that is what I get from it...either way. The book was eye opening as to how little we sacrifice our own comfort to meet the needs of others. I was aware before...but I think the book could be a motivater to take action.

Persis said...

Thanks for the review. I have mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, we are too complacent with our devotion and need to be stirred up. On the other hand, "radical" can become a emblem of Christian superiority and coolness.

Grateful for Grace said...

Looks like I'm not alone in my wariness of Francis Chan, but you are right. Most of us are not living out the Gospel well. I do believe that early Christians stood out (especially when contrasted with Rome!) because of their love, their self-sacrifice and their faith. I have two copies of this book and hope to read it this spring. Glad to hear your thoughts.

Terry said...

I read the book last spring, and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I knew nothing about him before, but I loved his call to take following Christ seriously.