Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: Crazy Love

Ok. So back to the blog. It turns out that reading the books isn't really the hard part. Determining what the review should convey and then sitting down to write it is the part I've been having trouble with.

But enough of that. Let's talk about Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Many of you may already be familiar with Francis Chan. He is the Teaching Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley and he is a prolific speaker, especially to young adults and Youth. With Crazy Love, Chan has burst onto the scene as author, as well.

The title "Crazy Love" calls out the main point of the book: God's love for us is absolutely crazy. Crazy as in - it defies all logic and reason as we know it. And to prove his point, Chan begins the book by stepping back and taking a look at the clearest evidence of how great and mighty God is: creation. By walking through a list of ever larger things in the universe that God has created, we can see some of the enormity of God. Francis counterbalances this with a discussion about how fragile and small our lives, and our contributions, are in comparison to God.

So, by the time we roll into chapter 3 (also titled "Crazy Love") we can easily see how utterly crazy it is for the creator of all things, the source of life, the universe, and everything, to love created beings so frail, small, and, let's face it, unappreciative. It just doesn't fit into the mental model that most of us have.

After establishing hos groundwork for Crazy Love in the first three chapters, Chan starts digging in deeper. He exposes how many of us react to a God with this kind of love for us. He is not necessarily aiming at the overtly evil, rampant "sinner" that we would all shake our heads at and "tsk tsk" about. Chan aims both barrels at the people who call themselves Christian. Using words from Revelations 3:14 - 16, Chan talks about the "lukewarm" Christians; the "good enough" or "at least I'm not as bad as..." Christians.

Chapter 4 is titled "Profiles of the Lukewarm" and was hard for me to get through, at first. I squirmed uncomfortably as I read each profile in the chapter. Each one seemed to hit home in some way. Here's a sample:
Lukewarm People tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside the church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.
Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.
And there are plenty more profiles like that. It is pretty convicting. But wait! Don't think that this is the main point of the book. It is an uncomfortable piece, to be sure, but it is necessary to see know where we are if we want to know how to get to where we want to be.
By holding the mirror up for us in this chapter and the one that follows it, Francis is helping us to see a truth that we probably would not be willing to admit ourselves. And once you've come to the point of admitting it, (or at least to the point of continuing to read the book), the author carries you forward towards hope and a way out.

Chan, using quite a bit of Scripture, talks about what it means to be in love with God, to be obsessed with God. He discusses the various responses we see both in the Bible and in our the lives of people around us to God's love for us. Chan's profiles of love and obsession for God are in stark contrast to the lukewarm profiles.

Francis wraps up the book with some examples of people that live their lives not cold or lukewarm, but HOT! The list has some names that you might recognize and some that you won't. It is convicting, like the lukewarm profiles were convicting but in a little different way. To see that people do live their lives everyday in love with God, and not just treating Him like a passing acquaintance, actually gives me hope.

In the final chapter, Francis says
After the apostle Paul preached on the day of Pentecost, people "were cut to the heart and said... 'Brothers, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). The first church responded with immediate action: repentance, baptism, selling possessions, sharing the gospel.
So, how will we respond when we learn of, and truly accept, God's great love for us? What will we do when we fall in love with our Creator? For that, my friends, I'll let you read the book yourself....