I have been meaning to post about the book study that a group of ladies from my church have been doing on Wednesday nights. We went through he book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I wish I would have done a week by week post just because each week has been so good! And, since the book is something that I will likely... ok, most definitely go back and read again, I may do that in the future. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. I would challenge you to get a couple of friends together and do it as a group because I think that accountability and discussion is really important for this type of book. It's the kind of book that takes thought, you can't just skim through.. if you do there is no point in reading it. It's not a gushy, feel good kind of book. Chan takes a biblical look at what it looks like to love God. It wasn't always easy to read.. but I am so glad I did it. I'll be honest, I'm always leery of 'study books' and 'devotionals'. I think most of those books are worthless. They rarely take you deep into Scripture and challenge you. Crazy Love is not that kind of book. It's no joke.
God has really used this book study to chip (or SMASH) away at things in my life. It's challenged my thinking on how I'm living out my life as a follower of Christ. It's convicted and tried me in many ways... and honestly it still is. I believe this book will continue to do so, as long as I'm willing. I'm continuously praying that I will be teachable. Lord, give me a teachable heart.
Next Wednesday is our last meeting (sniff, sniff) and I'd just like to share some things that have really stuck out to me. Like I said, while reading Crazy Love, I've taken a hard look at the way I'm living my life. God is abundantly clear in Scripture what is looks like to be a Christian. But it seems that in America we've lowered the standards and made our own rules. Just take some time reading the Gospels, as Chan suggests, and you'll see that the call Jesus gives is clear. Chan says,
"He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a 'Christian' without being a devout follower of Christ is absurd."
More importantly, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (John 14:15)
I find a paragraph in Chapter 5, Serving Leftovers to a Holy God, perfectly represents the attitude of American Christianity today. After quoting Matthew 16:24-25 (Jesus speaking) "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" and Luke 14:33, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" Chan says,
Some people claim that we can be Christians without necessarily becoming disciples. I wonder, then, why the last things Jesus told us was to go into the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all that he commanded? You'll notice that He didn't add, "But hey, if that's too much to ask, tell them to just become Christians-- you know, the people who get to go to heaven without having to commit to anything."
I don't want to live a complacent and comfortable life. My flesh does. But the amazing work that God has done and is doing in me wants to live this 'crazy love' kind of life. I'm trying to figure out what that means. What does that mean for me? Right now, I'm just pursuing Him. And I pray that my actions will flow from my pursuit to love God, to know Jesus, to be in communion with the Holy Spirit.
How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?? We disgust God when we weigh and compare Him against the things of this world. It makes Him sick when we actually decide those things are better for us than God Himself. (Francis Chan)
How is it that we think we're doing pretty good to read a one page devotional that barely mentions Scripture and throwing up a five minute prayer when Christ calls us to give all of ourselves, every ounce, every second? I'm not saying we are suppose to be perfect after salvation. But should we not press, suffer and strive for the prize? Is Christ worth it? Or do we continue to offer Him 'token praise' as Chan says? Does the King of Glory not deserve our life, our words, our deeds, our thoughts? I know He does, but my life often does not reflect that. Now, do I say, well.. that's just the way it is and go on living a complacent Christian life. Do I look at people in the Bible who lived that crazy kind of life (or at those examples that Chan gives in chapter 9, WOW!) and say, I can't live like that. God calls some to be radical.. and some to be 'normal Christians'. No, I don't think so. How about the truth? Biblical Christians are radical. And I want to be one.
The first page in Chapter 6, Chan quotes a piece of A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God and this is my prayer as well...
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, The Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away." Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.