Our small group has recently started reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. The basic premise of the book is that God really loves us...and therefore, we should be willing to display a crazy amount of love for those around us. Francis challenges his readers to live "radically", to step outside comfort zones and fight against the "comfortable" Christianity that is common in the American church.
The most recent chapter stirred up quite a bit of discussion in our group about what it really means to live radically and why its important. Some of Francis Chan's statements are a little extreme and they didn't sit well with everyone. Here are a few examples:
"Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict."
"A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions or commitments are piled on top of it."
"Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty."
"Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but beside that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever."
I don't think these are all meant to be taken literally or that they apply to everyone. Maybe you are someone who enjoys professional sports, but don't take this hobby to an unhealthy or idolatrous level. Or maybe you don't drink or swear...but you also try to stand out from the crowd for your faith in others ways. These extreme statements are meant to knock you over the head and make you think...they may make us uncomfortable. But I think Francis' goal is to cause his readers to be challenged in a new way to look at their life and discern where God may be pushing them to change.
Maybe not everyone is meant to sell their belongings and live on the street to be a witness for Jesus. This would be radical, but its not everyone's calling. But what kind of radical does God want you to embrace? Where can you step out of your comfort zone to demonstrate a crazy love for others?
Francis says, "The goal of American Christianity is often a nice marriage, children that don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involved suffering."
I think Francis is right. Living in a country where we are not persecuted for our faith can lead us to be comfortable, to fit in with the Christian sub-culture, and to assume that "radical" is for other people. But reading this book, I'm challenged to confront my comfortable lifestyle and to critically ask the question, "How can I live more radically for Jesus? What does He want me to do?"