“Overwhelmed by a Relentless God”
I joined a small group of men from my church to go through this book, and we all found it a very challenging and inspiring read. In fact, it’s right on par with that flavor-of-the-day Radical by David Platt, for in Crazy Love, Francis Chan challenges his readers to remember “the crazy, totally undeserved love of God” (Kindle Location 704) Whom our apathetic American Church has clearly forgotten. Of course, no book that calls for a “return” to obeying the words of Jesus should ever wane in popularity, but sadly the very fact that they do tells us a lot about the status of the Church today! To help strengthen the effectiveness of his book, Chan connects with his readers in a special, personal way by posting videos for each chapter which he’s shot in places like his home and town (these can be found at www.crazylovebook.com or on YouTube). Our group enjoyed studying Crazy Love by reading the chapter on our own, then meeting to watch the video and have a discussion over the information together. It was almost as if Chan were right there with us! This review will try to capture some of the major themes in Crazy Love.
Chan’s accusation that we’ve forgotten God (not to be confused with his book Forgotten God, about the Holy Spirit) cuts deep into the Church’s “comfortable” nature today. While we meet regularly to worship and while we have so many programs which gather us in the name of Jesus, Chan writes that, “the crux of it all is [that] we have an inaccurate view of God.” (K.L. 162) We fail to recognize God’s awesomeness in real life and confine Him to the small space inside the doors of our church building. Consider His awesomeness and glory in Creation, Chan challenges us: “Shouldn’t it be easy to love a God so wonderful? When we love God because we feel we should love Him, instead of genuinely loving out of our true selves, we have forgotten who God really is.” (K.L. 233) And if it’s not an inaccurate view of God’s awesomeness that’s lulled us to sleep, then perhaps we’ve failed to recognize His character. “Whenever we start to question whether God really hates sin, we have only to think of the cross, where His Son was tortured, mocked, and beaten because of sin. Our sin. No question about it: God hates and must punish sin. And He is totally just and fair in doing so. (K.L. 315)
When we cut to the heart of the matter, though, of why we’ve forgotten God, Chan reminds us of how we’ve remained in love with ourselves instead of falling in love with God our Savior. We’ve chosen the temporary vapor of our tangible lives instead of our spiritual relationship with our eternal God! We’re a horribly distracted people, and the temptations of the world around us are only growing stronger. Again, it’s the direction of this discussion that reminded me so much of Radical.
As pastor of Cornerstone, Chan challenged his church toward a paradigm shift that would return them to radical obedience to the teachings of Christ “where radical living is becoming the norm.” (K.L. 138-142) They were committed to fleeing a lukewarm Christian life. In fact, he considers these ideas mutually exclusive, for lukewarm “Christians” prove themselves despised of God and therefore not even saved! “The point,” he writes, “is that there is another path, an alternative to the individualism, selfishness, and materialism of the American Dream (even the so-called Christian version).” (K.L.. 2021) “Jesus’ call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing. The thought of a person calling himself a ‘Christian’ without being a devoted follower of Christ is absurd. (K.L. 970) Our unfaithfulness and distractions are not the result of mere busyness or forgetfulness. They are sin. They’re evil, pure and simple, and if we have no inclination to change, the problem is more serious than we can imagine. No matter what we tell ourselves about our plodding towards a right relationship with God, that relationship “simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.” (K.L. 737)
To resolve these issues, Chan doesn’t necessarily challenge us to drop these distraction or even to add the prayer and Bible reading that we all know we should do. Instead, he simply challenges us to fall in love with God again. When this occurs, everything else will fall into place. “When we love God, we naturally run to Him—frequently and zealously. Jesus didn’t command that we have a regular time with Him each day. Rather, He tells us to ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ He called this the ‘first and greatest commandment’ (Matt. 22:37–38). The results are intimate prayer and study of His Word. Our motivation changes from guilt to love. (K.L. 603) This is the paradigm shift that occurred at Cornerstone, and this is that which we all must seek.
I really appreciated the many times that Chan gave God the glory for his book. Occasionally, he’d tell his readers to close the book and open the Bible! And it’s in this way he also fittingly concludes: “Now close this book. Get on your knees before our holy, loving God. And then live the life with your friends, your family, parents, spouse, children, neighbors, enemies, and strangers that He has created and empowered you through the Holy Spirit to live.” (K.L. 2131) Crazy Love is a powerful challenge to the status quo of your Christian life, and I highly recommend it.