Last week, I finished a book recommended by a friend called Crazy Love, and I think it was a perfect finale to my summer's (unintentional) theme of growing in my faith. The book, written by Francis Chan, challenges Christians in a society that thrives on "me" and attaining the "American Dream" to refocus on God. He calls us not only see all of the excesses in our life, but how we might put our resources (monetary or otherwise) toward the Great Commission.
He says that we are touched and moved emotionally by stories we hear of "All Star Christians" and how they took up their cross, but then we disbar ourselves from responsibility by saying we could never do something "so extreme" today. Chan acknowledges that everyone's calling is not to be an international missionary or to quit their day job or sell their house, but he does call us to find out what it means for us in our individual walks to extend and share God's love with others. He even gives some awesomely amazing stories of modern day Christians that are/were living examples of using gifts for Kingdom work.
It was especially convicting to me when I read about how in college Chan heard a sermon about truly walking in faith and he realized that nothing in his life (or in the lives of the people around him) really pushed him to step out on faith. He said something to the effect of how he could not see anything in his life being different than if I hadn't been a Christian. I definitely saw myself in this category because there are very few times I felt like I had that, "I really have no other cushion besides God if this falls through for me" mentality. We want to believe that we are walking in faith but we really have to examine ourselves so that we make sure we really are allowing it to grow. I realized last night that I know exactly where I can give my faith room to grow.
What I liked most about the book is that it did not leave you feeling discouraged or inadequate for not being an all star all the time. But it did make you honestly see things in your life for what they are, see God for who He is, the "crazy love" that He has for all of us, and make you want to be a better person and Christian by always extending that love to others. I'll end with this passage from the book (it moved me to tears when I read it) that is an example of what I mean:
"So God assesses our lives based on how we love. But the word love is so overused and worn out. What does God mean by love? He tells us,Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things...- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8I was challenged to do a little exercise with these verses, one that was profoundly convicting. Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love. (For me, "Francis is patient...") Do it for every phrase in the passage.By the end, don't you feel like a liar? If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.Following Christ isn't something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are (95)."