My name is Blake Bergstrom and I am the Nashville Campus Pastor at the church that Jessica and Angie attend. I’ve graciously been asked to help out with Angie and Jessica to do a chapter review in Francis’ book called, “Crazy Love” for the Bloom book club. I can’t speak highly enough about both of you. I have the privilege of being in a Community Group through our church together with them and I love them and their families deeply. So, I am truly honored for the opportunity to be a part of their lives and ministry in this way.
Let me start by saying, Francis Chan is simply brilliant and this chapter is my favorite in the book. The reason why is because he has built you up to this point to understand God’s crazy – endearing Love for His people that does not and will not change. Then he turns the corner in ch. 4 and lets you know that too many Christians are “proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity” driven believers. In essence…in chapter 4 Chan “slaps it down.” I love the way that he delivers truth through this chapter with such authority. I share the same heart, in many respects, as Francis does here and I recently preached a message at Cross Point during our series called, “Religion Lies” called, “Cosmic Cop, Vending Machine, and Santa” that was very similar in content to this chapter. So, its kind of funny to me how God works that kind of stuff out.
Lets dive in…Chan starts by making us aware that The gospel is referred to as a treasure and it is the only thing that matters. Then speaks about the church in America and how much we love numbers so that we have a big stage, big buildings, for our own egos to impress others. In essence we cheapen the gospel by our own motivations, but that is the litmus test to prove how incredible you are in America. He then makes a big statement where he says, “Jesus isn’t interested in those who fake it.” Wow! I want to say that I’m not sure that I can swallow that pill completely. I think Jesus is very interested in them and wants to help them to GET IT! He is trying to wake them up and make them aware that He is the only thing that matters. However, I understand what Chan is getting towards. He states, “Do not assume you are good soil.” The paragraph under that statement is the thesis of this chapter. NOTHING can come in between you and God and the scriptures should be the lithmus test to gauge that. We spend way to much time worrying and comparing ourselves to other Christians around us and frankly most Christians don’t give us “reason to strive to know Christ more deeply.” (p.68) Chan is simply calling the church to examine/test themselves. He uses the term lukewarm to show the reader what that would look like and then he has a ton of examples to measure what lukewarm could be and then he measures each of those examples against the scriptures. It is the majority of the chapter from pages 68-80. Here are those examples:
- they attend church because they are expected to
- they give money to church as long as it doesn’t affect their standard of living
- they choose what is popular over what is right
- they want to be saved from the penalty of their sin instead of being saved from their sin
- they are moved by stories of people who do radical things for God, yet they do not act
- they rarely share their faith
- they gauge their morality by comparing themselves to the secular world
- they say they love Jesus, but He is only a part of their lives
- they don’t love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength
- they love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves
- they will serve others, but with many limits
- they think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven
- they are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider tying to give as much as possible
- they do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty
- they are continually concerned with playing it safe
- they feel secure in their faith because they attend church, made a profession of faith when they were young, were baptized, came from a Christian home, and vote Republican
- they drink and swear less than average, but aren’t much different than non-Christians
When all we are trying to do is live up to the expectations of parents/grandparents and those around us, then often times the church is what is getting in the way of us running hard after Jesus alone. Here is the way that I said that in my religion lies sermon. ”Religion has a tendency to be a guilt and shame generator!!” Instead of it being a place where my fire for God is continually stirred, it often chokes that out and simply makes me feel bad for what I’m not doing, instead of inspiring to live the Christian Life.
See, I was raised in a very religious house and –I am grateful for the upbringing that I had where I was taught morals and right from wrong. However, I was also taught some things that created prisons in my heart. I was taught that we were not supposed to go to movies, we shouldn’t dance, women should only wear dresses and not have piercings..and I’m talking about ear lobes…not to even mention piercing any other body parts. We were supposed to hang out with people just like us!! So..that meant, we were not to go to party’s, and obviously – no drinking, smoking, or secular music–MTV/VH1 were from “SAATAAN!”
If I am real honest with you, then I need to tell you that, “I don’t like being around religious (lukewarm) people at all.” See..I used to be a Server at “Don Pablos”. At the time, I had just rededicated my life, I was on fire for God and I was really working hard at being an example for Christ with the other servers. They were starting to ask real questions about their faith and their struggles. However, on Sundays…I would get really embarrassed and ticked off at the way that “Relgious folks” would act when they came into our restaurant. Here’s why – they wouldn’t look at me (too busy and too important) – they had constrained smirks on their face – they reaked of judgement and cheap perfume – they wore cheap suits, had stupid toopea’s, – they always complained about their food and were the worst tippers ever. Then…they’d leave a stinkin’ track to convert my soul! No server ever wanted to work on Sundays! So, as a Christian, was I supposed to say, “If you become a Christian you can become like that?” They were like…”YES-count me in – except No!”
It was more about carrying the Bible than reading the Bible. It was more about the form of worship rather than the person to whom the Worship was directed. It was about being seen, looking slick, and having on the right clothes.
They cared more about the presentation than the transformation.
See, we worship..worship! For so many people, even worship has become a prison. You can’t worship God unless it is your style…your taste..your preference! Please, don’t MOCK God! Don’t laugh at Him and make Him feel uncomfortable in His own house. This is His house…please honor Him, give Him glory, come here to lift His name high and no other reason. Don’t allow this house to become a self centered, self-seeking place, like so many churches that I’ve seen.”
This isn’t Chan’s opinion…its the opinion of Jesus. Jesus is calling us to give up everything to be His disciple. Jesus is counting on us to be the “salt of the earth” and if we aren’t then we are “not even fit for manure.” Its not a “cute little analogy” (p. 81) but a powerful challenge to the church in America today. The fear that I have is that we will have “a form of godliness but deny its power.”
2 Timothy 3:1-5 ”There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
I really believe that God is tired of our hollow religion that is cheapened by our poor representation in the church today. If I were to sum the idea of this chapter up with one verse it would be Isaiah 29:13 where the prophet Isaiah is calling the church or Israel back to himself and he says, “you draw near to me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.”
Would you consider yourselves lukewarm? Are your hearts far from God today? Let me know your thoughts…