This week's 'thought' comes to you from Francis Chan, in his book, "Crazy Love -- Overwhelmed By A Relentless God." In it he considers the radical nature of the love we should have for God, and what our response to Him should be in light of all He has done for us. This selection comes from chapter eight, which is entitled: "A Profile of the Obsessed."
In a world where fanaticism is most often seen as bad -- especially when it comes to people of faith -- Chan challenges us to see that the notion of being "balanced" -- if we follow the world's definition of being reserved, or half-hearted, or holding back so as not to be seen as too extreme in our devotion for Christ -- does not come from the Bible. In fact, that type of balance essentially makes us virtually invisible to the onlooking world where we are called to live in such a way that we stand out; being salt and light and committed without reserve. His book is a call to wholehearted devotion to Christ (and what truly Spirit-birthed Christian would not want to pursue that)? Enjoy.
Obsessed: To have the mind excessively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic. The idea of holding back certainly didn't come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a joy and peace when we are fixated on Jesus, living by faith, and focused on the life to come.
I think sometimes we assume that if we are nice, then people will know that we are Christians and want to know more about Jesus. But it really doesn't work that way. I know a lot of people who don't know Christ and are really nice people -- nicer and more fun to be with than a lot of Christians I know. There has to be more to our faith than friendliness, politeness and even kindness...
Lovers: People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back (Luke 6:32-34 / Luke 14:12-14).
Friends of All: People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another. Obsessed people believe that Jesus talked about money and the poor so often because it was really important to him (I John 2:4-6 / Matt. 16:24-26).
Crazy Ones: Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don't always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth. As Martin Luther put it, 'There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day [that is, the day of judgment when we will stand before Christ to give an account of all that have done in the flesh] (Luke 14:25-35 / Matt. 7:13-23 / Matt. 8:18-22 / Rev. 3:1-6).
The Humble: A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be 'humble enough,' and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known (Matt. 5:16). People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving His people (Matt. 13:44 / John 15:8).
Givers: People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world (James 2:14-16).
Sojourners: A person who is obsessed thinks about heaven frequently. Obsessed people orient their lives around eternity; they are not fixed only on what is here in front of them (I Peter 1:17-23).
The Engrossed: A person who is obsessed is characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being.
Unguarded Ones: People who are obsessed are raw with God; they do not attempt to mask the ugliness of their sins or their failures. Obsessed people don't put it on for God; He is their safe place, where they can be at peace.
The Rooted: People who are obsessed with God have an intimate relationship with Him. They are nourished by God's Word throughout the day because they know that 40 minutes on Sunday is not enough to sustain them for a whole week, especially when they will encounter so many distractions and alternative messages.
The Dedicated: A person who is obsessed with Jesus is more concerned with his or her character than comfort. Obsessed people know that true joy doesn't depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God (James 1:2-4).
Sacrificers: A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the best thing he can do is be faithful to his Savior in very aspect of his life, continually saying 'Thank You!' to God. An obsessed person knows there can never be intimacy if he is always trying to pay God back or work hard enough to be worthy. He revels in his role as child and friend of God."
Chan gives us a lot to think about; not only in his words, but also through his lifestyle (deciding after a trip to Africa to sell his larger house and move into a smaller one (half the size) -- so that he could have more money to give away).
Is that crazy, or obedience to Jesus? Is that "radical," or the normal response of a person who takes his commitment to Jesus seriously? Unfortunately, too many of us are more obsessed with fitting into the American lifestyle and what that looks like, than being a sold-out follower of Jesus and what that might look like. It's no easy battle -- especially for those who have children and know how much they desire to fit it. Yet it's a battle we're called to, and lose, the minute we think we don't even need to be concerned about it.
With you in the immense struggle to live as Jesus calls us to live, Pastor Jeff