I have to admit... Chan's opening remarks in this section really spoke to me... because I could've said them myself!
"Sometimes I feel like when I make decisions that are remotely biblical, people who call themselves Christians are the first to criticize and say I'm crazy, that I'm taking the Bible too literally, or that I'm not thinking about my family's well being." p. 135
Chan's referring to what happened when he came home from his first trip to Africa. Upon his return, he felt very strongly that he was to sell his house and move into something smaller... thus allowing him to give away more. The response he received when sharing his decision with others (especially other Christians) was a little surprising. Instead of hearing words of encouragement and support, he was met with skepticism and judgment. Chan specifically wrote, "I do not remember a single person who encouraged me to explore it or supported the decision at the time." p. 136. Having that context, here's how he lays out the obsessed characteristic for this topic:
"Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo. A person who is obsessed with Jesus will do things that don't always make sense in terms of success or wealth on this earth. As Martin Luther put it, 'There are two days on my calendar: this day and that day' (Luke 14:25-35; Matt. 7:13-23; 8:18-22; Rev 3:1-6)"p. 136-37.
I'm one of those people that read Crazy Love and felt God's confirmation that downsizing was the right thing for our family... but it should be noted that my husband and I were already contemplating the drastic change well before reading the book! Everything we read just further solidified what we already felt God was putting on our hearts. However, with the exception of very few, the idea was met with lots of resistance. Sometimes, I even heard things like: I hate it when people read this book and feel like they're suppose to sell everything they own and live a life of poverty! This was usually followed up with some comment about how that wasn't realistic or wasn't Chan's intent.
At the time, I would just bite my tongue... if not, I would have said something that I would have regretted! But, as far as Chan's intent, you don't have to read much further in the passage to understand his intent:
"If one person 'wastes' away his day by spending hours connecting with God, and the other person believes he is too busy or has better things to do than worship the Creator and Sustainer, who is the crazy one? If one person invests her or his resources in the poor- which according to Matthew 25, is giving to Jesus Himself- and the other extravagantly remodels a temporary dwelling that will not last beyond his few years left on earth, who is the crazy one?" p. 136.
In my opinion, this leaves little doubt as to what Chan's "intent" is here! He calls us out. He lays all the cards on the table and speaks to, in my opinion, one of the suffocating roots that is binding us from truly becoming followers of Christ... as is intended in the Bible. As I've mentioned before, right now I'm doing a really great Bible study, written by John MacArthur, that's taking me through the Book of Acts. I wanted to study the early church: how it was formed, what the early members did... specifically how they were called to live. And the one thing that has really stuck in my head is how everyone seemed to sell off all their possessions and throw all their money in a pot, so to speak. They weren't required to do so, but many made that choice. They lived sacrificially for one another. So, I guess my question to you... to myself... is this: Do we live sacrificially as part of our faith? Do we give out of our excess, our abundance? Or, do we give in such a way that our lives are altered? I'm not going to sit here and say that we should be doing "X" or "Y".... I think sacrificial giving looks different for each person. But, I will share what's on my heart... just because a dear friend recently put the thought in my head! Do we donate old worn out clothes because we want to clean out our closets (so we can buy new clothes for ourselves)... OR have you ever thought about hanging on to those old clothes and INSTEAD buying new clothes for those in need? Do we go to the store and buy name brand food for our families, but then donate generic brands to give to the local food pantry (and, please note that I'm not criticizing the act of buying generic food! If our goal is stretching the dollar in an effort to give more, then buying generic is the way to go...However, think about how much more we could give if we buy generic food for ourselves... stretching our dollars... and then buying more food (namebrand or generic!)to donate to a food pantry? I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong... and by all means, giving anything is better than giving nothing (though, I know some that would disagree with that last statement!) I just want you to think about your thought process when it comes to giving sacrifically.
My husband and I are ready to make a drastic change. We are ready to sell our house and move into something significantly smaller... even as we prepare for baby #4. It's not because we don't appreciate where we live, or what we have. We have been incredibly blessed in our lives. But, as we grow in our faith, something interesting has happened. Any night of the week, either my husband or I will look around our house and comment on how much "stuff" we have (always in disgust)... things we don't need, things we don't use, things we don't want. We used to "collect" these things: nice furniture, dishes we NEVER use, figurines and small statues that fill the furniture we don't need. We used to rationalize having and purchasing these things because they "made our house a home." But, if we're honest, they don't. What makes our house a home is our family... when we place God at the center. The dynamics of our family have drastically changed these past weeks and with that comes the confirmation that everything else means nothing. All the other stuff keeps us from using our money and time to help those in need. Yes, of course, we have helped those in need and been able to have all the other stuff, too! But, that's not what this is about. It's about TRULY living our lives as Christ calls us to...OR just doing enough to satisfy ourselves (our conscience).
I want to leave you with one last comment from Chan: "Why is it that the story of someone who has actually done what Jesus commands resonates deeply with us, but we then assume we could never do anything so radical or intense? Or why do we call it radical when, to Jesus, it is simply the way it is? The way it should be?"
Spend some time thinking about how you give of yourself (your time and your money)? I'm not going to give you any more direction... I'm trusting that God will take care of that!
Happy New Year!