In light of the great tragedy that has befallen our brothers and sisters in Haiti, I offer up today’s Tough Topic Tuesday with humility, urgency, and prayer.
Chapter Four: Profile of the lukewarm
Crazy Love, by Francis Chan
“Lukewarm people give money to charity and the church… as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?[i]”
“Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for the “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.”
“Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go, or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.”
“Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts and rarely try and give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel ‘called’ to minister to the rich; very few feel ‘called’ to minister to the poor.”
“It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.[ii]”
It is the widow who throws her only two coins into the offering plate that Jesus commends for having a crazy love. She gives everything she has to live on(Luke 21:1-4).
She gives everything.
The other guys give out of their excess, they give out of duty, the give out of moral principles, they give so that others will know they are giving, perhaps they give because they genuinely want to do something… but nothing too crazy. Too radical. Or too sacrificial. They don’t want to go all in. And who blames them? If going all in seemed crazy 2000 years ago before the stock market, pension plans, college savings, retirement funds, and second houses were en vogue; then followers of Christ who go all in today must simply appear radicalized and insane to the rest of the world, huh? Surely Jesus didn’t mean “sell everything you own, give it to the poor, and follow me.” (Luke 18:22-24)
But what if that’s exactly what He meant?
What if we have become so diluted with our own happiness, inherent freedoms, and ability to have almost anything we want in this world, that we, the rich Christians, have stripped the words of Jesus away and created our own perverted, easy, lazy, selfish, mediocre, watered-down, damning religion that fits easily into our lives?
Uuuuggghhhh…we don’t want to label ourselves that way, do we? Some of you are cringing now. Some of you are thinking that I am being radical. Emotional. Over-zealous. Some of you feel defensive, as if I am pushing my own man-made, hyped up faith onto you. Or some of you truly think that I am only talking about something that God has called me to do. Not you. Not your family. Not your life. No. You’ve made your plans. You have a nice nest egg and you own your own home. You go to church. You tithe your money and give a little extra away to charities. You are right where you are supposed to be. And perhaps you are unnerved, angry, or defensive that someone is saying that there might be something wrong with what you are putting forth.
I have news for you (and remember, you asked for the re-birth of Tough Topic Tuesday, not me J) I am no radical. My parents aren’t zealots. And I didn’t grow up a missionary kid. Heck, I didn’t even go to private school or homeschool. I am not a tight fisted, narrow-minded republican; nor am I a hellbent public works democrat activist. I am just a girl in between. I am college educated, but I am not particularly brilliant. I have no Bible degree and I went to a university that had plenty of sex and alcohol to go around. I grew up Southern Baptist, but now I go to a Bible church. I love Jesus, but I don’t wake up at 5:00 am to pray and read scripture for three hours before my husband and daughter wake up (though I wish I did). I drink alcohol on occasion. I’ve been in counseling for much of my adult life. I still fight with my sisters. I like to go to the movies. Cuddle on the couch with my husband. I yell at Tony Romo when he fumbles the football. And I am quite sure I am one of Starbucks biggest financial backers.
I am glad for my role in Addison Road, extremely humbled to be a part of bringing music that points others towards Christ; but I am not a saint and I am certainly no different than any other person in this world.
I am no radical.
Here me say, those of you who have written the quotes off at the top of this blog as something that other people (the devoted, intense, crazy, missionary, extremists) are called to live by: those other people don’t exist.
It’s just us.
Sure, there are martyrs and Mother Theresa’s along the road, but they are one in a million. And Jesus didn’t look in the eyes of super-heroes and say, “leave it ALL to follow me.” He looked into the eyes of Fishermen. Prostitutes. Lepers. Tax collectors. Dads. Moms. Housewives. Sisters. Brothers. Children. Rich men. Poor men. Jews. Gentiles. And every average person in between. These are the people of the New Testament. And these are the people to whom Jesus said, “leave your mom and dad; don’t go back to bury the dead, they can bury themselves; sell everything; turn the other cheek; pick up the beaten man on the side of the road and care for him; have a party and invite the destitute; take care of orphans the way you would take care of me…”
And the very radical list continues…
And the rich man walked away sad.
He wanted to follow Jesus. But he didn’t want to part with his way of living.
And then Jesus looked the man in the eye and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus didn’t recruit overzealous weirdo’s. He called normal people, like you and I, to an extremely life-changing, demanding, hard, extremely, crazy life. To live like him. Holding nothing back. Giving away more than he actually had to give. And, then saying that even that was not enough. Because if you gave away everything and had not love it was nothing.
Still, we live like this doesn’t apply to us. Most of us walk through our lives with a puny, diluted little faith that doesn’t truly change us, or change the world around us. And Francis Chan actually goes as far as saying that perhaps those who fit the description of ‘lukewarm’ are not really Christ followers at all. Just church attenders.
And this all leads me to Haiti.
What will our response be to the orphans who are without an orphanage? Someone else will adopt them? Someone else will go hold them? What about the money that NGO’s will need to help sustain their ministries and missions? Will someone else give extravagantly? Will someone else go hold the hands of the broken… or will you, the mom with three kids who doesn’t think it’s possible to break the mold and follow a crazy sort of call to care for the destitute?
Or me, the musician, who doesn’t think I can get out of shows and contracts, singing for Christians in big comfy cool youth rooms… so that I can actually go and do what Jesus said to do? How will we respond?
Is it crazy to drop everything and go or give.
Or is it lukewarm, empty faith, to simply give a hundred bucks and say, “Poor People”?
[i] Francis Chan, Crazy Love:Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008), 69-71, 74-75.
[ii] Frederick D. Huntington, as quoted in Francis Chan, Crazy Love (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008), 65.