The power of Facebook… when you have a big family like mine, and you grow up and live far away from the main clan and then convert to a different religion… Facebook can bring you into contact with your extended family. Maybe get you more intimate contact than you have a right to depending on how active the members of your family are and the nature of their use of social media. Most of the younger set use it to keep in contact with their friends, so having me, your long lost cousin, comment can be an intrusion. This is me commenting without cramping anyone’s style.
My dad’s youngest brother has a son in high school that I haven’t seen since he was small. He was real shy, but so cute when he was little and even though I know he’s practically grown now (and still cute!), I picture him as that little boy. Through FB, I know that he likes soccer, has a positive outlook on life, is well loved, and that he loves God. He posted a status about a chapter he read from a book that moved him called Crazy Love. I Googled it and was sent on an inspiring journey learning about Francis Chan, his message, and what he has done with his life.
The book is interactive as far as printed paper can be–you can read the first chapter online. At one point for emphasis, Chan wants you to stop and watch a video “The Awe Factor of God” and so I did. I watched it while I continued to read the book. Then as you read along, again, he wants you to watch another video, so I clicked the link to “Just Stop and Think” and watched that too, followed by reading the Q&A interview he gave. All of it online. Chan has a great message in both videos. As I read the first chapter of the book I liked his way of getting your attention by naming the first chapter “Stop Praying,” but there is still a lot missing. I ignored what I believe is true for that moment and let his words wash over me. I understand what he means.
I like the message, but it is just a morsel to get you through the door. With so many people in the world today avoiding/not seeing/boarding up the door, I can appreciate the message and his ministry. I like that he only wants to get you to stop and look inside yourself and feel what’s there. He’s not out to bash your head in with the Bible, but he is truly in awe of God and wants you to only acknowledge it in quiet reflection to yourself. Forget what your head knows and ask your spirit, is how I see it. Your spirit was with Him before you came to Earth, so he/she would know truth when presented with it.
Perhaps if I read the rest of the book, I would find the meat of Chan’s message, but I can already appreciate what he has to say–both with his words and with his actions. He is the pastor of a “giving church” that gives away “55% of everything that comes in”. I like when people practice what they preach and I admire anyone setting out on a journey for truth in their lives. He says that it only makes sense to give when the Bible says we are to lay up treasures in heaven. He turns around the questions many have asked of God to question ourselves, “Why are so many people dying of starvation?”.
I like the turning of the question, but I do not agree that things are the way they are “because He is God”. I think we are simply children who cannot fathom the reasons our Heavenly Father would allow justice and free agency to unfold in the same way my two-year-old daughter cannot comprehend me allowing her brothers and sister to reap the consequences of breaking rules or being lazy. If they get spanked, it’s not because I don’t love them. Still, I understand his reasons because people so love to ask of God what’s wrong with the world when simple investigation would yield that without righteousness there can be no peace. The Hawaiians knew that the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono. It’s not God’s fault.
I flat out disagree with Chan’s statement “because none of us are good” under the the bolded paragraph leader “God is fair and just.” I mean, I get that he thinks God is this really big, bright entity with power and glory. I thought that about my dad when I was little, too. We are just children. I know that none of us could be sacrificed for sin in the way that Jesus Christ atoned because of his sinlessness, but we are inherently good.
I agree with Chan when he talks about the awesomeness of everything God has made and is and how it takes quiet contemplation to really grasp it and even then, we’d fail to comprehend it all. I think of Psalm 46, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and that’s really the basis of Chan’s message.
I disagree that “God hates and must punish sin”. I believe that the foundation for the world was set and certain principles cannot be broken, so yeah, you’re going to get yours, but not because he’s compelled in any way by hatred. Saying you hate sin is not the same as saying you will punish sin because you hate it. Right?
As for the rest of the chapter under the heading “Before the Throne”, I will not launch into what’s what since I read the King James’ Translation of the Bible and believe that there was a lot of symbolism and imagery used. I understand that Chan wants us to feel the weight of the differences between God, who is “mighty” and “fearsome”, and man who is “puny” in comparison, though, so we’ll leave it at that. Still, I thought his interpretation was beautiful.
I am grateful for a high school student who shared his reaction to this book because it allowed me to see the kind of person I have for a cousin and to feel connected to my family. (Yay, technology!) It also let me take inventory of myself and have a reaction of my own.
I do so want to follow the Savior Jesus Christ and live as he would want me to. I hope that I will apply the inspiration I receive from those with the gift to inspire reverence and love for gospel truths, not just be fed for an hour and then walk away forgetting. I want the fruits of my lifestyle to be consistent with my beliefs. Mostly, I want my faith in Jesus Christ to grow and strengthen into not just a belief in him, but to believe him when he says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)