Below, Pastor Francis Chan (Cornerstone, CA) answers a few questions about content in his book “Crazy Love” and his overall approach to ministry. Caution! He tells it like it is:)
Q: In one chapter you state, “dare to imagine what it would mean for you to take the words of Jesus seriously.” What does this mean? Why do you think so many Christians would turn down this dare?
A: We’ve conditioned ourselves to hear messages without responding. Sermons have become Christian entertainment. We go to church to hear a well-developed sermon and a convicting thought. We’ve trained ourselves to believe that if were convicted, our job is done. If you’re just hearing the Word and not actually doing something with it, you’re deceiving yourself.
I remember preaching on Luke 6 and I brought up the passage that says: “do good to those who hate you.” I told the congregation to think of someone that hated them, and I asked: Are you willing to go do something good for them? Will you do that? Yes or no? I said, tell God right now, “No I will not do that.” We’re not willing to make that statement because we don’t want to say that to God, but we’re doing that everyday.
We don’t think it through because we’ve developed a habit of listening to the Word of God and not obeying it. If we take Scripture literally and if we actually apply it, we won’t have what our flesh desires, so we walk away sad or we run to the church where no one else is doing it, but they seem okay with that.
Q: You talk about being a lukewarm Christian. You make a bold statement that “churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians…We will not see them in heaven.” How do you explain this? How does grace play into this statement?
A: I explain it through the passage of Revelation 3 and look at the passage objectively. God says that the lukewarm will be spit out of His mouth, and that is drastically different than God embracing you and welcoming you into heaven. The lukewarm still need to be saved. How can we say a lukewarm Christian is saved?
Salvation has nothing to do with my performance. If I’m truly saved than my actions are going to show. All through the New Testament a person’s faith is shown through his actions. New Testament teachings are clear that someone who loves God and doesn’t obey God is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
It’s not popular to question someone’s actions and salvation, and Scripture tells us to test ourselves and see if we’re really in the faith. I believe 100% in grace, that I did nothing, and I’m completely saved by the cross. By the grace of God we believe and are saved. If someone has the Holy Spirit in them, there will be fruit and there will not be a lukewarm life.
Q: How does the American dream play into a lukewarm faith?
A: It’s interesting when we talk about the American dream. In Luke 12, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool. There’s this guy who is rich and has an abundance of crops. He builds bigger barns so that he can store it up. He says, “I have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink, and be merry.” Basically, he’ll retire and enjoy himself, the American dream. God says, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.”
We shouldn’t worry about our lives, what we’ll eat, buy, or wear. God says the American dream is absolute foolishness. It’s exactly what Christians are doing and defending. God could take your life at any time. Don’t conform to the patterns of this world.
Q: Do you think God calls you to live a radical, crazy life?
A: It’s not that this lifestyle should be crazy to us. It should be the only thing that makes sense. Giving up everything and sacrificing everything we can for the afterlife is logical. Crazy is living a safe life and storing up things while trying to enjoy our time on earth, knowing that any millisecond God could take your life. To me that is crazy, and that is radical. The crazy ones are the ones that live life like there is no God. To me that is insanity.
Q: So how does one begin to love God more? To love him radically?
A: The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans. Something mysterious, even supernatural must happen in order for genuine love for God to grow in our hearts. The Holy Spirit has to move in our lives.
It is a remarkable cycle: Our prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love.
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