Having benefited so much from books all these years, I believe it’s high time I pay tribute to the best ones I have encountered, the ones that really moved me. I’ll start with Crazy Love by pastor Francis Chan.
My non-fiction picks this year have, so far, been very consistent in the message they’ve delivered to me: Love radically. Francis Chan’s work, as can be expected from its title, pounds on this message, but he is more straightforward than the other authors I’ve read–some may even say brash–in making his assertions. His statements provoke you, slap you in the face, throw buckets of cold water on you, and kick your sedentary behind to make sure you get moving and start truly living out the love of Christ.
I tried to identify some of my favorite quotes from the book and ended up posting a lot, and even feeling bad that there are so many more gems that I left out. (Read: You should get a copy and chew on the whole book).
Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people he has made?
The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His.
The irony is that while God doesn’t need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him — and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.
From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us? Our scenes in the movie, our brief lives, fall somewhere between the time Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts) and when we will all worship God on His throne in heaven (Revelation).
…our concern is more about going to heaven than loving the King.
Frankly, you need to get over yourself. It might sound harsh, but that’s seriously what it means [1 Corinthians 10:31].
The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans.
It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.
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?
God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.
What are you doing right now that requires faith? That question affected me deeply because at the time I could think of nothing in my life that required faith. I probably wouldn’t be living very differently if I didn’t believe in God; my life was neither ordered nor affected by my faith like I had assumed it was.
The Scriptures are filled with commands and references about caring for the poor and for those who cannot help themselves. The crazy part about God’s heart is that He doesn’t just ask us to give; He desires that we love those in need as much as we love ourselves. That is the core of the second greatest command, to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). He is asking that you love as you would want to be loved if it were your child who was blind from drinking contaminated water; to love the way you would want to be loved if you were the homeless woman sitting outside the cafe; to love as though it were your family living in the shack slapped together from cardboard and scrap metal…
We’ve conditioned ourselves to hear messages without responding. Sermons have become Christian entertainment. We go to church to hear a well-developed sermon and a convicting thought. We’ve trained ourselves to believe that if we’re convicted, our job is done. If you’re just hearing the Word and not actually doing something with it, you’re deceiving yourself.
That last one really jolted me. How many times have I listened to a message and had that very same response — “feeling” convicted, but not acting on this conviction? Pastor Chan tells me in effect, “How wonderful that you feel convicted. Now what will you do about it?” God’s crazy, unfathomable love for us should indeed compel me to love Him and others like crazy, too!