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I’m a little behind the times.  Most people I know have already read Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I, on the other hand, just recently borrowed it from a friend and finished reading it while on vacation last week.

It’s a good book, but not an easy one to read.  It’s not hard to understand, mind you, just hard to swallow.  In a nutshell, Chan challenges every Christian who even remotely understands the wildly extravagant, profoundly sacrificial love of Jesus to respond to it accordingly–that is, to love Jesus and others in the same wildly sacrificial way.

Chan believes the response of most modern American Christians falls far short of that.  As it’s put on the back cover of the book:

It’s crazy if you think about it. The God of the universe — the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and e-minor — loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.

The heart of the book is a deliberate contrast between lukewarm Christians (who, Chan says, are not Christians at all) and those who are obsessed with Jesus.  Chapter four, entitled “Profile of the Lukewarm” ends with a quote from Luke 14:31-35:

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.  In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.  “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

I doubt that most of us take those words as seriously as we should  If you’ve followed this blog very long, you know I’ve written about that before.  I’m sure Jesus’ words should sober us, perhaps even shock us, but too often they do neither.  Chan’s commentary on the passage may help some of us recover its shock value.

Jesus isn’t just making a cute little analogy here. He is addressing those who aren’t willing to give everything, who won’t follow him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless, that it sickens our souls. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even fit ‘for the manure pile.’

Wow. How would you like to hear the Son of God say, “You would ruin manure“? When salt is salty, it helps manure become good fertilizer…but lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless. It can’t even benefit manure.

I intend to buy a copy of Chan’s book and reread it occasionally.  Why?–because the truth is, I could become (too easily, I fear) the lukewarm Christian.  I could be the one who would ruin manure.  I am the one who constantly needs to be reminded that Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, that “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”