Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crazy Love

So...I'm "reading" (read: listening to) Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I started it this summer while I was determined to go running at the park every so often. The goal was to go more than every so often, but the goal and actuality didn't match up. Anyway, I've been "reading" it, and I have taken to repeating a certain section. I loved it so much that I spent time this week listening to a few seconds, pausing to write it down, then listening to more, writing it down, and repeating that process for about 5-7 minutes of content. I'm not going to repeat it *all* here, because I want you all to read the book (or at least listen to it). I will, however, share some really good nuggets of what I've been listening to, and my thoughts on how I am processing it in my own life.

Here we go...

"Lukewarm living while simultaneously claiming Christ's name is utterly disgusting to God. And when we are honest, we have to admit that it isn't fulfilling or joyful to use, either. But the solution isn't to try harder, fail and then make bigger promises only to fail again. It does no good to muster up more love for God, to will yourself to love him more. When loving him becomes obligation, one of the many things we have to do, we end up focusing even more on ourselves. No wonder so few people want to hear from us about what we ourselves feel is a boring, guilt ridden chore."

It is so easy to get sucked into guilt trips that we set for ourselves. We have lofty goals for ourselves and are quick to forget that we are sinners. When you have been a Christian for a long time, or even a short time, it's easy to "go through the motions" and put on a happy face. It is easy to live at surface level with people and never get past the facade, fooling even yourself into believing that you have it all together. What tends to happen, though, is that the mask wears thin in front of some people, or it cracks when we really look in the mirror of our lives. We mess up, and then are shocked to believe that it happened! If I truly knew that I am a sinner, the true state of my heart and root of my selfishness, I would not be shocked when it manifests itself in my actions or thoughts. I would know that it was my nature, and fight the good fight against it, praising God for his glorious grace that knows all of that junk and loves me still. When we make a list of things to do, people to pray for, bible studies to do, it can easily become a chore, setting our hearts up for failure and disappointment. The cool thing, though, is that God isn't disappointed when we fail. To be disappointed, you need to have high expectations. He doesn't have high expectations for humans. He knows we will fall. That's why Jesus came. (This not to say we should continue sinning with reckless abandonment...Romans 7-8, Galatians 5)

"Prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love. Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies. Besides being self-defeating and side-ache inducing, it would also be near impossible. You'd have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies. In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have the opportunity to wonder 'Am I doing this right?' or 'Did I serve enough this week?' When you are running toward Christ you are freed up to serve, love and give thanks without guilt, worry or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe. But running is exhausting. If, that is, we are running from sin or guilt or out of fear, or if we haven't run in awhile. However, if we train ourselves to run toward our refuge, toward love, we are free, just as we are called to be. As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving him and others becomes natural. As long as we are pursuing him, we're satisfied in him. It's when we stop actively loving him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment."

It was very ironic (is that the right word? Did I at least use it better than Alanis did?) to be listening to this for the first time while running, something that I don't do often. He's right. Running is exhausting when you haven't done it in awhile. So is initiating relationships, praying, reading the Bible. When you're out of practice at a musical instrument or sport, it takes time to build up your strength and endurance. The author is saying that love is the same way. If we are out of practice loving God and loving others, we will need time to develop those habits and endurance again. We will need strength that is not our own in order to truly love those people in our life that rub us the wrong way, or that need so much from us when we feel we have nothing else to give. I know when I'm driving somewhere far away, recently those trips have been back home to visit family, going *to* the place is always more bearable and feels faster than coming *home.* The distance is the same, the amount of hours in the car is the same. The difference, though, is the expectancy and excitement of going somewhere, looking forward to spending time with people that I love and miss. Coming home from those times, I'm driving away from a place that I love, going to another place I love, but the place I'm going is normal. It's not nearly as exciting as seeing people that I haven't seen in months. Does that make sense? I'm not feeling very concise/clear.

So...I copied more than I planned...oops. I think this post is long enough.

General idea: Run towards Jesus. He loves you and along the way you will be able to love others and do the things that he wants you to do. If you switch the order, you'll end up feeling guilty and frustrated with yourself.


Melissa said...

I love you, and I love your blogs. They are so encouraging and they make me miss you a lot.

We talked about this in Action Group the other night. We were reading in Luke 18, about the Rich young ruler, and how God honestly just wants our hearts to be like the heart of a child. Mary talked about how sometimes we have little "fly-by's" with God. Sometimes we just give Him a little bit, and call it okay... rather than giving Him everything. I feel like I've been doing that lately, and I feel a bit spent...

You are encouraging to me... I think you should know that. I love you a whole lot. Thanks for pointing me to truth, sis. Whether you know it or not, God totes spoke thru you, and this post to my heart. Sooo thanks. :)

Love you.

Laura said...

this is one of my favorite joke! Read it last year on a whim and loved it!