Study Series: Crazy Love – Chapter Four
Despite the recent run of glorious rain (I, unlike most, am loving this unseasonal weather), I have already been to a record number of barbeques this year. If there were ever any question of how best to prepare food, barbeque is without doubt the answer. Cooking food in the open air with the aid of that manliest of tools, fire, simply transforms any meat into something spectacular. Note that I say meat here. The glorious thing about the barbeque is that it maximises the amount of meat on your plate, and minimises the amount of the less thrilling foodstuffs which are usually green in colour.
We are told however, that all meat and no green stuff is a good way to meet Jesus sooner, and whilst I would agree that to die is gain, I also agree with the second part of Paul’s statement in Philippians 1:21, and so occasionally try and get some peas down to avoid leaving this earth prematurely. This, it seems, is a necessary unpleasantness and while I am not a fan of plants I can accept that they do me some good.
This week at youth study, it was thought by most that Chapter 4 was the most difficult yet. The lukewarm were challenged and we were all called to examine ourselves to see if we were still in the faith. Francis held no punches as he tore apart many of the assumptions that we hold about what ‘being a Christian’ means, but the desired outcome was not to paralyse us with fear, but to motivate us into action, to move us out of complacency. This self examination may have been painful, but it was intended to bring life to where there was perhaps only the facade of life.
One of the two questions (see below) that Francis posed at the end of the DVD invited us to share with each other the verses that we felt stuck out to us most as we read Chapter 4 this week. For me, it was Jesus’ description of the Pharisee in Luke’s gospel:
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ (Luke 18:11-12)
How easy it is for us to fall into the trap of measuring our progress by that of others. Too often, when wondering what Jesus would have of me, I have instead found myself looking around, seeing what other people thought Jesus would have of them. Jesus makes many startling, earth shattering statements in the gospels. Too often, I have read Jesus’ life transforming words and then looked around for others that have read those same words and managed to retain some sense of control and ‘normalcy’ in their lives through some inventive loophole.
The challenge for me this week was to not settle for what seemed like an acceptable level of ‘Christian-ness’ in my life; to not look at what other Christians do and try to match that level of ‘holiness’, but to simply look to Jesus. To read his word. To take it seriously. To understand that when He calls for ‘everything’ he means EVERYTHING. To be satisfied with nothing less than chasing after Jesus.
I aim to be like one person – Jesus.
No doubt I will fail daily. Probably more often than that. But I commit to keep moving towards that goal for the rest of my life, never looking at my position in the holy man league table; only looking to the distance between me and the finish line and the next step… and then the next…
Here, as always, are the two questions Francis gave at the end of this week’s DVD clip. It would be great to hear from you what you found particularly challenging from this week’s chapter.
1. Share one of the verses that stood out to you as you read through this week’s chapter. Why did this verse stand out?
2. What practical things can you do this week to bring about the changes that you want to see in your life?
For more in this study series, click here.