It has been some time since I’ve been stirred by a book like I have been by Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. No, it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking, but it’s refreshing and a bit startling to wrestle with someone who believes what the Bible says. I mean, really believes it and wants to see it lived.
In fact, that, in a sense, is the premise of the book itself: Jesus meant what He said and He not only deserves but demands our all, our whole lives, our loves, our thoughts, our actions, our desires, our money, our families, everything. I can’t get past the line in which Chan says that “Lukewarm” Christians “consider radical what Jesus expected of all His followers.” How flippantly we take the works of Jesus. We sigh about how hard our life is and that Jesus will understand when we offer Him leftovers instead of our firstfruits.
I have come to believe that one of the greatest enemies of the Christian faith is apathy. I have also come to believe that American prosperity breeds apathy like few cultures have. We expect comfort and we take it for granted when we have it. But we forget that the majority of the world does not live like we do. As Chan notes:
If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4,000 a month you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet? Simply by purchasing this book, you spent what a majority of people in the world will make in a week’s time.
And yet we are so quick to complain, so quick to compare ourselves, not to the rest of the world, but to the person down the street who has a bigger house and newer model car than do we. Chan puts this into perspective:
Which is more messed up — that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves “broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich.
Our comfortable lives breed apathy, they trick us into thinking that we don’t need anything, particularly anything an ancient Jewish carpenter might have to offer. Apathy colors our thinking so deeply that we don’t even realize that some very pointed Scriptures apply directly to us. Consider, for example, Jesus’ conversation with the man known as the rich young ruler, found in Luke 18:18-24:
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!
When nearly everyone in the world except average Americans hear the term “rich,” they think of average Americans. When the average American hears the phrase, they think of Donald Trump or Bill Gates. America’s false sense of religion only muddies the waters. The man interacting with Jesus seemed to really think that he was doing alright. After all, he kept most of the rules. But Jesus sense the idolatry of the heart that was bubbling under the surface and Jesus, went for the jugular, so to speak, going right at what gave this man comfort, security and identity: his money.
Compared to the rest of the world we are rich. Filthy rich. Jesus was talking to us. Are we listening? Do we believe that He’s valuable enough to forsake everything else? What if Jesus really meant what He said to the man? What if He requires everything from us? What would that look like in your life? What impact would it have to put things into perspective and realize that we are indeed filthy rich and that our lives of ease have blinded us to our very apathy?