I have sat here trying to think of a better title for this post, but the title for chapter 5 in Crazy Love is just too good to change. This chapter has impacted me in a way I am not sure I can really explain, but I will give it a shot.
Before I continue, I have to mention that the irony only continues this morning. I haven’t really had time lately to read any, so I was skimming back over and reviewing this fifth chapter and had to chuckle. I mentioned in an earlier post that God has blessed me tremendously in the last few weeks financially and personally, and although I gave him all the praise for it, was I not giving enough back to him? I’m not even talking about money here. How about my time? Have I occupied myself with going all these places, hanging with friends, and doing activities without making enough time for him? Honestly I have to answer yes. Now, that being said, what is the common denominator in all that? My car. It takes me everywhere. Just an interesting thought that crossed my mind this morning.
I am a lukewarm Christian, and Chan brought that realization to the lime-light. As I read the first half of this chapter, pure fear gripped me. Every description of “lukewarm” caught me off guard and described me in significant way. The first bold statement Chan makes is, “To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.” (p.84) My first reaction was almost that of offense and anger. The implications he is making about my eternity are dead on; my anger turned to fear.
Where is my commitment? “Jesus’ call to commitment is clear: He wants all or nothing.” (p.85) In the parable of the different soils, Chan points out that Jesus is not describing three different types of Christians, only one. A true Christian devotes his life to Christ and bears fruit to prove it. Anyone who claims to know and love Christ does nothing but deceive himself and others if his actions bear no fruit. In essence he is a liar. Is this me? Just for the record, no this in not me for the simple fact that much fruit has been revealed in my life, but the personal question I have to ask would be is it enough? Is Christ my fulfilling portion, or do I only burn for him when it is convenient for me?
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
– Matthew 16:24-25
– Matthew 16:24-25
Those verses do not sound very comfortable to me. Huh, that brings up another idea: maybe the Christian life is not meant to be comfortable. I am not referring to finances. I want to make it clear that I believe God calls us to be good stewards of what we have. What I am referring to is what is in my life that makes me comfortable enough that I will not leave my element to be on fire for Christ? Would I go up to a complete stranger and tell him about Christ? Simple, right? Wrong. I am not that comfortable in my faith. Why not? Because I stay in my own little comfort zone of wanting people to like and approve of me, that I don’t want the embarrassment of rejection.
Without grace, every person who claims the name of Christ would be doomed, no doubt. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our works and “garden tending” are not enough for eternal security. We need Christ’s grace, daily.
At the end of the day we have to ask ourselves: “Are you willing to say to God that He can have whatever He wants? Do you believe that wholehearted commitment to Him is more important than any other thing or person in your life? 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?” (p.97) Tough questions that require some serious self examination, and maybe even repentance.
It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own little lives and focus on taking care of our life responsibilities. Through my personal experience, I have learned that is not how God designed it to be. He is all we need, everything else is secondary. Everything! That requires a significant amount of self surrender, letting go of everything we value and hold dear to us. It has also been my experience that when I truly let go, I find that his perfect intentions for me are far beyond what I could have come up with for myself. Do not ask me how that works because he is God and I do not understand all his ways.