Or so I thought… that was why I never picked up any of his books. The most notable among them, as far as I know, being “Crazy Love.” Some friends back home sent me Crazy Love a few months ago, and when I got it I was uncertain of what to do.
I’m fairly reticent if not downright reluctant when it comes to Christian fads. I tend not to put a lot of stock in bands with wagons, and when people start saying it’s the best ride of their life I get suspicious.
The fact is that I couldn’t sleep tonight, got up at midnight, started reading it for sheer lack of anything else presenting itself, and am very glad I did so. I’m about half-way through and thought I should take a break to share something.
I know many people who will read this aren’t Christians, so bear with me, but I think you’ll agree with the point I’m going to try to draw out. And that is this: the church in America is plagued with lukewarm Christians. And by that I mean Christians who are pretty comfortable with their lives, or at least don’t think that taking Jesus seriously is for them. To actually read the Bible and do something about it? Sure, let “Holy Joe” over there do that. I’m fine, thanks.
This applies to Christiandom at large, not to pick on the American church too strongly. And don’t let me say this from a high-and-mighty viewpoint of myself. Chan went through a whole list of identifiers in the “are you lukewarm” arena. The one with which I struggle the most is probably spending my time and energy and resources on people who can never pay me back. It’s hard for me to want to spend time with the socially awkward and the poor and destitute.
Granted I’m currently in Africa, working on a hospital ship, serving the poorest of the world’s poor. But it’s all relative, isn’t it? And in my context I’m awfully selfish. I mean AWFULLY selfish sometimes. I won’t get into self-flagellation here, but to be sure, I’d rather do my own thing and hang out with my cool friends than those people. And it’s humbling to have to say it.
In fact I’ve been going through a really lukewarm time for a while now. I haven’t really wanted God more than any number of things. I’ve wanted my book to succeed, to find the girl of my dreams… heck I’ve wanted Pizza Pipeline more than God for the last few months. But I can feel that changing again.
And the fact remains that I’m willing to give it all up for Jesus. Just stopping to say that should stand as some proof. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it, but it’s true. As much as I might cringe at some things He could demand of me, if He’s demanding, I’m doing.
But back on point, I have a few atheist and agnostic friends I can think of off the top of my head that would agree with what I’m saying. One in particular, who I’ve had an ongoing discussion with for about a decade now, has said as much. She sees my faith as real, on a personal level, as well as some others, but can’t buy into the church. It’s not full of ‘real’ Christians.
I love how Chan points out that it would be great if people had to stop saying “I believe in God but I can’t get into organized religion.” And were forced instead to say, “I can’t deny what good the church does but I don’t believe in their God.” At least it would bring us to the point of addressing the real issue at hand. Unfortunately we cloud that by our own actions.
I know I do. I pull stupid stunts or say/do selfish things that drag Jesus’ name through the mud. And I’m sorry for it; I really am! That’s the last thing I ever want to do! But still, I do it. Withholding my gifts and love from others being paramount among them.
If we were to stop living for ourselves; to reject our comfort; to take up our cross and actually do what Jesus says (give generously regardless of the cost, love our enemies and pray earnestly for them, focus on others’ needs before our own, give up the right to ourselves and live to a higher standard, etc.), things would look a lot different. If we only bowed the knee; meant it when we said “yes Lord.”
Chan quotes Robert Murray M’Cheyne when addressing the church, and it’s one I’ve seen before and still love:
“I am concerned for the poor but more for you. I know not what Christ will say to you on the great day… I fear there are many hearing me who may know well that they are not Christians because they do not love to give. To give largely and liberally, not grudgingly at all, requires a new heart; an old heart would rather part with it’s life-blood than its money. Oh my friends! Enjoy your money; make the most of it; give none away; enjoy it quickly for I can tell you, you will be beggars throughout eternity.” (Emphasis mine)
Let’s be generous and forgiving and peace-loving and patient and kind and full of hope. Let’s be joyful. Let’s put God at the center and chase after Him farther and faster than we’ve ever chased after anything. And let’s do it together. If we don’t, I fear the consequences. Not even so much for the next life, but for the life we could have lead and the lives we could have touched.
If you’ve got the time I’d suggest reading Crazy Love. It turns out it isn’t just a fad. Even if you aren’t a Christian, at least you can gain some insight on what you should be able to expect from those of us who claim to be.