Book Review: Crazy Love

If you’ve spent any time on this blog then you’ve likely seen that among the various topics and passages discussed the centrality of the message is one geared toward awakening those “Christians” that are slumbering or merely coasting through life in their relationship with Christ. In fact, maybe this best describes your situation right now. Perhaps you aspire for spiritual growth, but try as you might in your own strength, you simply are not progressing. Author Alan Redpath provides the following analysis, “Full blessing in the Christian life is not bestowed except to eager, hungry people who press in to receive it.” So if the full blessing comes  to those who hunger to grow in their relationship with Christ, how then does one develop this hunger?

In his book Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, author Francis Chan asks, “Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions?” His book provides answers to these questions and many more as Chan explores the depths of religious complacency in all of our lives and exposes us to thoughts about God, the Creator of the universe, who loves us with a “crazy, relentless, all-powerful love” that seeks to draw us ever closer into a relationship with His Son, the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Throughout this book, Chan’s tone is more like a conversation with his readers than a textbook style lecture. His thoughts flow from one point to the next and through the extensive use of Biblical references, he succeeds in drawing readers to examine themselves on the inside to see if their Christian life would be better classified as “lukewarm” or “obsessed”. The book opens with a request to stop reading and proceed to his website www.crazylovebook.com where Chan directs the reader to view the first video of the awe-inspiring majesty of the Creator of the universe and just how immense and worthy of praise this creation is. The second video is a dynamic monologue that Chan delivers as he walks along the coastal cliffs of California on his way to enjoy the splendor of God and also surf a few waves (included below).

As the book unfolds the reader begins to get a glimpse of just who God is, why He loves us so much, and why anything less than a heartfelt, passionate, pursuing relationship with Him, simply will not do. Chapter 4 is perhaps the most penetrating as Chan details 18 characteristics that makeup the “Profile of the Lukewarm.” It’s here where he makes a bold assertion based on the Parable of the Sower that Jesus teaches in Matthew 13, by saying, “Do not assume you are good soil.” Chan argues that, “most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God.” In concluding this bold approach to establish the “lukewarm” Christian, Chan provides the following conviction, “lukewarm living and claiming Christ’s name simultaneously is utterly disgusting to God.” So disgusting in fact that Jesus makes reference to the lukewarm in Revelation 3:16 by literally stating He will spit, or more accurately, vomit, them out of His mouth.

In the chapters that follow, Chan speaks of the love of God and how we are to let God do the work in us and make the changes in our heart. He states that running toward Christ, pursuing, and loving Him is much less exhausting than running from guilt and fear of sin and in fact it is liberating because it frees us up “serve, love, and give thanks” to Him. This message of loving God, fully surrendering to Him, and allowing Christ to work in our hearts are the marks of genuine intimacy that all lead up to perhaps the boldest chapter of Crazy Love, chapter 8, “Profile of the Obsessed”, which includes 14 characteristics that contrast those given earlier for the “Lukewarm.” In concluding his book, Francis Chan presents examples of real, everyday Christians that have lived their life in complete surrender to God, obsessed in their relationship with the One that pursues us relentlessly with a Crazy Love. In this final chapter, Chan supplies 2 quotation gems worth noting, “It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives that will change the church” and “The world needs Christians who don’t tolerate the complacency of their own lives.”

Crazy Love is a passion-filled message to the “lukewarm” church that has become so pervasive in America today. It’s message is one of urgency that should not only awaken those that are slumbering, but should invigorate those who are already living passionately for Christ to examine their relationships with friends, family, and fellow churchgoers to help them encounter the love of God. Chan closes his book with a Q&A section where he makes the following statement, “The idea of Crazy Love has to do with our relationship with God. All my life I’ve heard people say, “God loves you.” It’s probably the most insane statement you could make to say that the eternal Creator of this universe is in love with me. There is a response that ought to take place in believers, a crazy reaction to that love. Do you really understand what God has done for you? If so, why is your response so lukewarm?”

 

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Crazy Love”

  1. Thanks again for another great post, John. This book is challenging in many respects, but spoke directly to my passions! My husband and I introduced it to our small group and after having a choice between 8 different studies, they chose this (thankfully). Chan’s newest, “Forgotten God” is on my shelf. I plan on digging in before too long.

  2. Thank you Angela. I think our church might be moving toward reading this book in small groups as well. It was such a challenging book, yet an easy read, which should make it ideal for small group discussions. I’ve heard some great things about “Forgotten God”, so I too am looking forward to reading it.

    In Christ,
    John

  3. I think that’s a Good discussion on Chan’s book, thanks for posting it. One thing to note though, in Chan’s “list” of Lukewarm behaviors he concludes it by saying that while certainly we (which includes myself) might at times display one or more of these characteristics, the point was to identify a pattern of living in which concession has been made towards a life that does not have Christ at its center. In this regard, I believe the Church today is full of people who are great at playing church, but do not realize what it means to be a follower of Christ. MacArthur, Piper, Chan, or those pastors included in the linked discussion would never tell you that salvation comes from “works”, but instead that “works” or “fruit” is an outworking of the Holy Spirit in the life of a true believer.

    It appears as though alot of the comments made on that blog may in fact be a continuation of the debate between the passages from James 2:14-26, which states “faith without works is dead” and Paul’s Roman epistle 3:27-4:5 that states ” justification is by faith alone apart from works of the law.” Do they contradict each other? No, on the contrary they compliment each other and in fact both use Abraham to state their case. Both answer the argument of “Does justification as an ongoing and final right standing with God depend on the works of love?” Paul says no, if by works you mean deeds to show you deserve to be justified. Yet James would say yes, if you mean that works are evidence or fruit of justification. They are saying the same thing just from different perspectives.

    Regarding Lordship Salvation, I don’t think I can adequately address that in these comments, but I will say that it may be helpful to look at it from a different perspective. Christ must be both Lord and Savior of your life at the moment of salvation (justification), because it is not a multi-stage process. Sanctification, however is a process of progression to be more Christ-like and it is a ongoing result of that initial justification. Without sanctification there cannot have been been justification (see Romans 6:19-22). This later step of “lordship” that many claim to have experienced is actually a major step in sanctification towards a fuller submission to Christ, not going back to justification and now making Christ the Lord of your life. The following article, though from one of the “heretical” pastors, John Piper, I believe accurately and more importantly Biblically restates the position of Lordship Salvation.
    http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/1990/1496_Letter_to_a_Friend_Concerning_the_SoCalled_Lordship_Salvation/

    Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, apart from works of the law and if any of the pastors mentioned above would depart from this glorious truth, I can assure you I will be one of the first to make it abundantly clear.

    One final point, why would anyone who claims Christ as Lord and Savior of their life want to have any of the “Lukewarm” characteristics that Chan lists, as a description of their own life? If someone reads that and is not convicted about areas of weakness in their life, then maybe they aren’t saved, just as Chan would argue.

    Thank you for taking the time to post the link, it is definitely worth reading and thinking over,

    John

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