Last night, I spent some time talking to a friend about Crazy Love. Our church is about to do a small group study on the book and I've been praying for the people that will be doing the study... even though I don't really know who they all are. I have really strong feelings about this book (OBVIOUSLY!) God has used it to radically change my faith. There is absolutely no doubt that I am a completely new person, transformed for the better, because of what God has done in me through this book. But in my conversation last night with my friend, we got into this discussion about what others have thought about this book. We have both heard many stories of people getting up to Chapter 5 and then.... putting the book down. It makes people uncomfortable. We like to see ourselves as the "good guys," but this book makes us think that maybe we aren't as "good" as we thought we were. I know some people that look at me... and how I want to live my life after reading this book... and question whether my "interpretation" of the book is on target. For those that are bold enough to say this to my face... and I truly LOVE it when they do, because it ALWAYS ends up to be an awesome conversation for the both of us.... I simply ask them if their problem with my "interpretation" has more to do with the choice I make on how I'm living my life OR the choice their making on how to live theirs. I follow this up by telling them that I don't judge anyone's decision on how they live... especially in this society. It's hard. The temptations are great. The traps are many. I'll start pointing fingers when I stop making bad decisions...which, I assure you, won't happen in this lifetime!
I guess my point here is that if you've made it this far... you've done better than many. And I have no doubt that God is working as hard in you as He has in me. Personally, I relished Chapter 5. It was my favorite chapter in the book. It's Chapter 6 that seems to be wrecking me right now. I'm not sure this was the case in my first reading of the book... but as I was reading it on the way to church Sunday, I slammed it shut saying, "I hate this book." My husband's prompt response was, with a laugh, "You love that book." And, he's right. What I hate is how I've wrongly convinced myself that I'm doing "enough." This is the part I read before closing the book:
"John clearly tells us that 'whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did' (1John 2:16). Are you ready and willing to make yourself nothing? To take the very nature of a servant? To be obedient unto death? If your honest answer to those questions is yes, how are those intentions manifested in your life?
"In Mathhew 25 we get a frightening picture of the coming judgment. In this passage, Christ condemns people to eternal punishment becasue they did not care for Him during their lives on earth. 'I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' (vv. 42-43).
"The condemed protest, saying they never saw Christ in any of these positions of need, and Jesus responds, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me' (v. 45).
"Ouch. To me that is like a stinging, unexspected slap in the face. Like many of you, I've heard that passage taught on numerous occasions. I've left convicted, but haven't taken it literally. We see it as a fresh perspective on poverty rather than a literal picture on impending judgment." (pp. 117-118)
As I read this passage to my husband, I vented my frustration that I wasn't doing enough. But, you see, the problem with us is that we WANT to do more... we just aren't sure what MORE looks like, if you will. To make things worse, with the exception of a few friends, when we share these frustrations with others, we usually come up against infuriating eye rolls or comments like: "Don't beat yourself up. You do more than most people." But, that's not really saying a lot, is it? However, the comment I get the most and the one that truly breaks my heart is this: "You're not going to be able to change the world."
As we pulled into church on Sunday, my husband shared with me something he had read the night before (something that I had heard before, but it was definitely worth hearing again!) It was the story of a little boy walking on a beach covered with hundreds, if not thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore, waiting to die. The little boy was picking up the starfish, one by one and throwing them back in the ocean. A man went up to the boy and said, "Son, you could spend your entire day throwing these things back in the ocean but it's not going to make a difference." The boy looked at the man, holding up a lonely starfish in his hand, and replied, "It will make a difference to this one. " As he threw it back in the water, he walked away... to pick up another starfish.
Maybe people are right, I won't change the world in its entirety, but I ABSOLUTELY CAN make a difference in the life of one person... two people. That number is only limited by my willingness... or unwillingness... to serve Him!
I heard this song on my way home from taking my youngest to pre-school today. I've heard it several times before, but today, it spoke to my heart. I thought it might speak to yours, too!