Crazy Love

Francis Chan is a dynamic speaker with a raging gift of exhortation. There are few better. And he employs that gift to good effect in his book, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. He makes the case well that our God loves us with a crazy love...and that the only appropriate response is to love him with a crazy love in response.

Like many others, Chan looks at the twenty-first century Western church with a critical eye, and exhorts readers to reject what seems to pass for "Christianity" in most of what we see around us--and who can disagree with that? But I found a funny thing happening along the way. The more I agreed with him and got stirred up by his impassioned challenges to complacent Christianity, the more uncomfortable I got. What was going on?

I think it was this: Chan is right in pointing out the all-in call of Jesus to his followers, and that standard totally reflects who I want to be. But at times his exhortation pointed my thoughts outward (toward others) rather than inward (on himself or on myself, the reader). It is probably a flaw in me rather than in the book itself that judgment and legalism began to ignite in me, not only toward myself but toward others. I started to lose sight of the mercy, grace, and triumphant love of God as I read. I am fully confident that this was not and is not Francis Chan's intention at all, so please chalk it up to this reader's failure to receive his exhortation in the right spirit. To some extent, that's true of every book; as Chan himself says, "don't assume you're the good soil" (in Jesus' parable of the soils), one of the book's many challenges which I take to heart.

One final note: I "read" Crazy Love in the audiobook version, which Chan read himself. I'm guessing that the author was coached not to "over-emote" or lapse into his animated speaking style. If so, I think that was a huge mistake. Chan's speaking style is lively and often light, his reading of the audiobook was downright gloomy.

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