Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Crazy Good Crazy Love

I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of Francis Chan's Crazy Love. It was not as part of one of the reviewer programs, although I did get it free through christianaudio's monthly free audiobook title (something I highly recommend everyone take advantage of if you don't already).

This is an absolutely wonderful book that I highly recommend (although I don't want to say too much and make people's expectations too high--that causes problems, too :) ).

One of the best parts of this audiobook is that Chan read it himself--a problem I noted in Piper's A Sweet and Bitter Providence. I've started listening to his next book, Forgotten God, and that starts with an interview with him, where he admits he is not a great reader. I have to agree--it sounds like he's reading most of the time. However, I would not want it any other way because you can hear his passion, and that's more important than other benefits of a professional narrator.

To the content of the book: This is one book that has made me remember to worship God. Those words sound so flat as I write them because they are overused and misused. But Chan does a phenomenal job of making this a bit of a devotional. Really, I think this book is best described as a devotional. You can get a sense of this from the videos on the Crazy Love website, which Chan integrates into the book creatively. As he says in the interview preceding the other book, one person introduced him at a speaking engagement by saying what he talks about is so simple. It's reminding us of the basic, fundamental things about life and God.

The premise of the book is that God is in love with us and wants us to love him. As I'm writing this, again, I'm finding my review sounds so lame and does not express the true beauty of Chan's words and God's creation.

Chan's argues that we need to respond to God with "crazy love," meaning actions that may seem "crazy" to the world because we are relying on God for everything. Not that we should be actively looking to be crazy, but that we should be willing to be radical. Honestly, some of Chan's examples of crazy love seem truly crazy (i.e. a missionary physician getting all of his teeth pulled so that he would never have to leave the mission front due to teeth problems again--I'm not sure God would actually ask us to do that). However, he also says that these are not prescriptions for what everyone has to do--we all have to listen to what God has called each of us individually to do. I appreciate and agree with that.

One of the points that I particularly appreciated from his book is that it helped me remember to act out my priorities. Many of us can say God and family is first, but what does that actually look like? It can have quite a few definitions, all of which can be good and valid. However, one of the things Chan reminds his readers is that all they do will basically be forgotten in 50 years. There's some exceptions, but at least for me, that helps my anxiety about feeling like I have to do something big, as I have discussed in an earlier post. Chan also states we should not be asking why God has allowed hunger and suffering in the world. Instead, God should be asking US why WE allow hunger and suffering in the world.

The way he approached this made me think of it in a new way that motivates me to act more and live out of love. It's hard to describe, maybe in part because I'm still processing. One of the ways I'm processing it will be in another post tomorrow.

Overall, this book does a great job of challenging our fundamental beliefs of how we act in response to God. Again, he does not necessarily say anything new that most of us haven't heard before, but for me, he says it in a way that feels quite new. Most of my posts focus on existential, cognitive beliefs related to faith, not necessarily how we live out our faith or believe we should live out our faith. This book tackles that in the best way I've ever seen.


  1. Liked your thoughts on the way readers read. I have to get most books on CD for the visually impaired services of our library system which deliver 10 books a month to my house. So I know what you mean that it is not always best to have a famous trained reader! The true passion comes from the writer reading it, be it Chan or Bill Clinton reading My Life.

    It is best with real sense of meaning in the reader's voice!

    On Crazy Love I think being willing to risk yourself, your position at work or do something BOLD not necessarily BIG is really a way to let HIM know how much we Love HIM too.

    On 50 years from now...I do think what we do (ie Faith as a verb) and positive actions will last or be carried by others and I don't care if my name is attached to anything now or 50 years when it certainly won't.

    I used to tell my staff that no matter how secure you think things are, or accounts you have...something will happen, company sold, son-in-law will take over, etc. Just do the best you can now and be ready to grab the first new wave that comes after the the last one crashes on shore!

    Good post and food for thought.


  2. There’s something I like about Chan’s model of “swimming upstream” and living a radical Christian life. Loving God with abandon (and in ways that won’t make sense to others) is core to a relational view of Christianity. Jesus really should change all our priorities and each day should be lived in light of eternity.

    But there’s also something in his book that unsettles me (and maybe that’s not all bad!). Chan says: “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there is no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are "lukewarm" are not Christians. We will not see them in Heaven.”

    Relationships, even a relationship with God, are often very mundane and ordinary. Even lukewarm at times. The fastest way to kill a marriage over the long haul, despite the glib recipes in self-help books and magazines you see in the grocery store line, is to try to make it one endless honeymoon. The exotic weekends, the acrobatic new sexual positions, the love notes hidden in the sock drawer—nothing wrong with any of them. But sometimes trying so hard to make everything magical leaves people disillusioned, prone to divorce or affairs, and ill equipped to face the mundane realities of marriage. It may be the same with Christian faith.

    I heard a sermon series some time ago on Christian discipleship that was filled with amazing stories of missionaries and martyrs. We could almost hear the whoosh of the arrows flying at the missionary in the Amazon jungle. It was like we were there in the Roman arena singing songs of faith in Jesus as the wild animals rushed forth or the gladiator wielded his sword. Wow—it was inspiring!

    But afterwards I wondered what it had to do with my very ordinary life in suburban America where I often have days without opportunities to do anything more heroic than balance the checkbook or take my car in for a smog check. I could try to work myself into a frenzy of “crazy love.” I could sing “Kumbaya” and try to make myself feel the way I did on some long-ago mountaintop at a Bible camp when it seemed as if God was so close I could touch him. Or I could accept the fact that sometimes God is most present when he seems most absent. And when I’m doing the most mundane and even “secular” things.


  3. Thank you both for your comments! Cal: Your challenge to some of Chan's points are something I was thinking just this morning as I was finishing his next book. I don't disagree with his points. In fact, I largely agree. However, they are a bit in an "idealistic" paradigm and world that do not fully take into account the fallen world that at some level prevents us from fully experiencing God to the fullest. And I don't think he would disagree, either, on that. It's a hard balance to present...



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