Crazy Love is the most challenging book on Christianity I have read. Now, I’m no religious scholar, so I’m sure there is a more challenging book out there somewhere. And it’s not challenging as in “These are really deep and difficult to understand theological discussions. I need a PhD to get this.” It’s actually a very easy read intellectually.
It’s challenging because it presses that “uncomfortable button.” You know the one. It’s the you-profess-that-you-believe-this-but-you-don’t-live-it button. It hurts your feelings a little at first because the preacher is talking specifically about things you have said and things you have done. You can’t deny it, even to yourself. And then you get angry and defensive, and you don’t like the preacher at that moment. Then you say, “That message really spoke to me,” and you feel good, and you tell yourself you’re going to “be better” and change. But you go home and watch football and go to work on Monday and forget all about it before next Sunday, because… well, we like to be comfortable.
Francis Chan mashes that button over and over and over hoping that it sticks. In that discomfort and uneasiness, we know we are saved by grace, but we realize we are not doing what God has called us to do. We are not taking up our cross. Our fruits are not a testament to our beliefs. We are lukewarm.
We go to church. We try to be nice, polite people, but Chan writes, “When we face the Holy God, nice isn’t what we will be concerned with, and it definitely isn’t what He will be thinking about.” He quotes 1 Corinthians 3:13-15- Each person’s works will be tested in the fire. If it burns up, he will lose everything but himself, like a person barely escaping through the flames. Chan says, “Perhaps that sounds harsh, but harsh words and the loving truth often go hand and hand.”
Chan emphasizes that our relationship with God has to be everything in our lives. We have to literally depend on him for everything. Not say we do, and do our own thing anyway just in case He doesn’t come through. He also heavily emphasizes sacrificial giving and Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40- “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother’s of mine, you did for me.” Chan challenges us to literally treat everyone we come in contact with as though they were Jesus.
When you get to the last chapter, Chan realizes you are at that point of saying “That message really spoke to me,” and you feel good, and you tell yourself you’re going to “be better” and change, but then you’re paralyzed because you’re not really sure what it means in terms of your life. You put the book down and go back to being comfortable. Chan quotes Annie Dillard: “How we live our days is… how we live our lives.” He writes, “We each need to discover for ourselves how to live this day [Chan’s italics] in faithful surrender to God as we ‘continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling’” (Phil. 2:12). Chan says we have to learn to listen to and obey God day to day “…in a society where it’s easy and expected to do what is most comfortable.”