Finally getting around to reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, and I don’t want to jump the gun (because I don’t know for sure where he’s headed) so this is not (repeat not a review). I must admit that I’m thinking–which is why I read and why people tell me to read Chan and Chandler and Piper and Dever and Driscoll and on and on and on–and having to re-reassess my belief system. I don’t expect to go down a primrose path after reading this and a couple of other Chan books that have hit my Nook. However, I am already expecting a challenge to my traditional mindset to be replaced (yet again) with a biblical one. So let me throw a couple of thoughts at you that have surfaced in the midst of the first three chapters of the book.

All of what’s been lurking the last few days in the recesses of my mind hinges on one’s (particularly my) view of God. I don’t think that I’ve gotten it wrong all these years about who God is and how he is Creator and Righteous and Powerful and etc. What’s troubling to me about my own approach (and that of the majority of what has come to the front of the class as the modern church) to God is that while I know about him and what I know about him can be written down. What I mean is that while I know that he is all-powerful, I treat him as though he is all-ignoble; understanding that he is perfect, I project my imperfection onto him. Chan addresses it this way:

When I am consumed by my problems–stressed out by my life, my family, and my job–I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice [Philippians 4:4].  In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities. . .

Basically, these two behaviors [worry and stress] communicate that  it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. (p. 28)

So, I begin to make God smaller than he is (and sadly, myself bigger than I will ever be).

This now relates to my personal walk with Christ and my place in the family of God. What am I to do? And the big question: What does it mean to be saved (church-ese for being part of the church)? becomes even more real to me as a person, to me as a Christian, and to me as a pastor. In an effort to share the good news of the Gospel with people outside my faith, I have learned to promise people all kinds of things–most significantly their place in heaven–in order to “close the deal.” What is most hazardous about this approach to evangelism is that it makes heaven the goal, and me the object. All of this when God was always meant to be the object and his glory the goal.

Realization 1: God is God. He is worthy of my worship–regardless of what happens to me. He is perfect–without regard to my own personal preference.

Realization 2: In order for me to be a “good Christian” I must be satisfied with God. He doesn’t have to do what I want in order for him to be good, righteous or just. He is not hampered by my limitations. I must ask myself these probing, burning, difficult questions in order to help me adjust to his desire:

  • Do I believe–REALLY believe–that God loves me?
  • Do I love God?
  • Why do I love God?
  • Would I love God even if I got no reward for it?

My answer to these questions will determine whether I really begin to grow or if I will stagnate in the pool of self-absorbed, self-righteous, self-aggrandizement. And it seems to  me if there is so much self going on, I can’t really be giving God glory. So, perhaps I ought to take a cue from three young men–Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah–who once told a very powerful ruler, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (see Daniel chapter 3 for the whole story)

As I process all of this, I must conclude that when faced with the thought of “would I be a Christian even if I didn’t get anything for my trouble (i.e. Heaven)?” I must come to the place where I would say, “yes” for my Christianity to really mean anything–hard to say and harder to hold on to because we’ve been so taught that the purpose of Christianity is to allow God to do something special for us. And what I’m discovering is that the real purpose is so that we might get the rare and pleasant opportunity to toss our riches–which amount to little more than dandelions (I’ll address it on another day) at his feet.