This summer the Back2Back staff is reading Crazy Love, by Francis Chan. Chan urges readers to resist the temptation to be satisfied with the status quo and instead respond to God’s invitation into a passionate love relationship. He challenges readers with a call to forsake complacency and apathy and follow God wholeheartedly.
Here is an excerpt from Chan’s book that I found to be particularly impactful (pages 93-94):
“As Tim Zizziar said, “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” . . . God’s definition of what matters is pretty straightforward. He measures our lives by how we love. In our culture, even if a pastor doesn’t actually love people, he can still be considered successful as long as he is a gifted speaker, makes his congregation laugh, or prays for “all those poor, suffering people in the world” on Sunday.
But Paul writes that even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV). Wow. Those are strong and unmistakable words. According to God, we are here to love. Not much else really matters.
So God assesses our lives based on how we love. But the word love is so overused and worn out. What does God mean by love? He tells us,
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends . . . faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 ESV
But even those words have grown tired and overly familiar, haven’t they? I was challenged to do a little exercise with these verses, one that was profoundly convicting. Take the phrase Love is patient and substitute your name for the word love. (For me, “Francis is patient . . . “) Do it for every phrase in the passage. By the end, don’t you feel like a liar? If I am meant to represent what love is, then I often fail to love people well.
Following Christ isn’t something that can be done halfheartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.”
As a staff, that is our challenge as we provide care to orphans. Our call is to not just offer clothing and shelter to children in need. Our mission is to meet the needs of the orphan, both spiritual and material, out of the overflow of Christ’s love in our hearts. Love must be our motivation and at the core of everything we do.
God calls us to wholehearted faith characterized by love. That is the mark of the Christian faith and our prayer and hope is that it permeates through every fiber of our ministry. Our organization is rooted in Christ’s mandate to love sacrificially. In 1 John 3:16-20, we see God’s compassion for the poor through the example of Christ’s love manifesting itself through His willingness to surrender everything, even his very life.
Crazy Love has encouraged us as a ministry, but it has also prompted me to examine my own heart for any areas of my life where I have become complacent. Chan’s exercise was especially powerful. As I replaced the word love with my name, I was convicted of ways in which I haven’t allowed Christ’s generous love to reveal itself through my actions, often because of fear or complacency. His kindness and merciful love should compel me to pursue a deeper relationship with Him and likewise love those around me radically, laying at His feet anything that is hindering me.
What attitudes or areas of your life might God be asking you to surrender to Him so that you might love more radically? What is holding you back?