Study Series: Crazy Love – Chapter One
On Tuesday evening this past week, approximately 20 of the young people and youth leaders in Firwood Church met to discuss their thoughts having read Chapter one of Francis Chan‘s book, ‘Crazy Love – Overwhelmed By A Relentless God‘. It was a great evening and I hope that these online blog posts will do it justice and provide a place for both the young people and anyone else who is joining in (I’m happy to see that there are a number of you who have already purchased the book) to continue the discussion.
Before I begin, I’d like to clarify the goal of these posts. I do not intend to summarise all the content of each chapter (I feel that the publishers may be less than happy about that), nor do I pretend to offer some kind of additional study guide for the book. Rather I hope to highlight key aspects of our discussions from Tuesday nights that the dialogue may continue here. With that in mind, let us continue…
This week, Francis began with the seemingly contentious title, ‘Stop Praying’.
I hope that for a time, you did.
The big idea is that we have perhaps become too familiar with God. That we have lost our sense of awe and wonder when we come into His presence. We instead find ourselves babbling away without taking time to really think about who it is that we come before. Francis invited us to take some time to consider creation; the vastness and complexity of it all, and the Creator behind it. You can check out the video he uses to make this point below this paragraph, or in higher quality here (click on videos, then ‘The Awe Factor of God). Alongside images taken from passages in Revelation 4:1-11 and Isaiah 6:1-7, Francis began expounding the nature of God, inviting us to cease from our busy-ness and gaze upon the Eternal One, before offering up our worship to Him.
I must say that I found this week of great benefit, but quite challenging. I have heard, and given, the ‘Creator of galaxies’ monologue many times in my life as a Christian. I felt that the very thing that Francis was trying to use to pull me out of over-familiarity was the very thing that I had become over-familiar with. I found myself accepting intellectually that God is awesome and that the creation of the unknowably huge yet mindblowingly intricate universe was indeed an incredible act, yet still lacking any real sense of having my breath took away by it all.
It was in this moment, struggling to try and feel ‘awed’ that I stopped and asked God to let me know more. Not to know more of how the universe works (as interesting as I find that), but to know more of who He truly is. To understand further His true magnificence and glory. I asked God (in the least self-serving way) to wow me once again.
One of the questions that Francis poses at the end of the accompanying DVD for chapter one, was ‘How was your relationship with God different this week’. For me, worship grew out of a new and refreshed understanding of who God is.
In our meeting on Tuesday night, we found ourselves mostly circulating around the other question that Francis asked in the video. He asked us what our first words would be if, like the Apostle John’s great vision, we were to see God stood before us?
The answers were varied. Some felt that they would say nothing at all, standing with their jaw dropped in amazement. Others felt that all they would be able to get passed their lips would be the exclamation ‘wow!’. Some fell in line with Isaiah’s exclamation of ‘Woe is me’, acknowledging their own sinfulness before a holy God; feeling remorse for a life that was at best only partly lived for Him.
Again, I felt intellectual knowledge mix with a feeling of unease. I know that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2), and I know that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus I will one day stand holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 1:3-8) and yet I also know the vast distance that I fall short of what God wants of me. Yet still I wondered whether any of that would be at all the focus for me when faced with the Living God, or whether I would be unable to do anything except worship Him.
We also discussed that the answer to this question very much depended on the position of the person answering. As fearsome as a holy God may seem to those He has saved, for those who have rebelled as enemies of God it would truly be a terrible, frightening sight (Hebrews 10:26-27).
The discussion was much deeper than I can describe here, but I invite you to join in by commenting on this post. In particular, I’d ask you to consider the two questions posed at the end of the video on Tuesday night:
- What do you think would be the first words that would come out of your mouth if you came face to face with the eternal and holy God, the Creator of all things.
- Has your relationship with Jesus been different at all this week? If it has, how has it been different? It it hasn’t been as different as you had hoped for, why do you think that might have been?