It was 2008 when I listened to my first ever Francis Chan audio sermon during a Bible study group. That same year he released his first book entitled Crazy Love. In 2013, 5 years after Chan's initial release of Crazy Love, he has revised and updated his book. Just as it has been 5 years since Chan revisited his own book, I too am revisiting this book 5 years later.
Before Crazy Love was written, Chan was the founding Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and also the founder of Eternity Bible College. It is amazing what changes can happen in 5 years for Francis Chan. Crazy Love has now sold over 2 million copies. He is the best selling author of his second book Forgotten God, host of the BASIC Series, and writer of several adult and children's books. He continues to reside in San Francisco with his family, goes on speaking tours at various conferences, and serves with local ministries including City Impact.
There is a new additional preface to which Chan points out that there is also an additional chapter to update readers on his ministry and his thought process. Aside from a new added preface and a bonus chapter, little to nothing has been changed to this book. The text remains almost identical to the 2008 version. Aside from a new gold trim, the cover still has its bold red colour with its simple white up and down arrows that resembles the relationship between us and God. For the sake of this review, I will be treating this book as if I am reading it for the first time all over again.
In the foreword that Chris Tomlin writes, he states how Crazy Love may just be the most challenging book outside of God's Word you will read for a few years to come.
Chan sets the tone by driving the crucial foundation that the reader needs to understand. God is holy. God is eternal, God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful, God is fair and just. He really gets us to stop and think by explaining clearly how crucial we need to understand this; To gain perspective of our life and its purpose and meaning. This is all found in the first chapter which I believe is the most foundational chapter. If the reader does not understand or comprehend this in chapter 1, they will most likely miss the entire point of this book. If you do not believe me, even the title of chapter 2 is called, 'You might not finish this chapter'. From identifying a lukewarm love for God, to an obsessed love for God; Chan shares the differences between how we serve leftovers to God rather than giving our everything to him out of pure love. He even goes on to say in chapter 5 titled, 'Serving Leftovers to a Holy God' was his hardest chapter to write. If I were to simplify the message of Crazy Love, it would be how big God is, how small we are, and how much God is crazy in love with us.
Chan's greatest strength has always been his story telling and analogies. Chapter 2 is probably my favourite chapter as I resonate in those words the most. They are thoughts I always wanted to express, and he does it for me. Another strength that I have always appreciated of Chan is his ability to visualize statements in a much larger aspect than the small narrow one many people tragically view with. It is like while people are only focussing on one area of a painting, he is using his words to paint a much larger canvas for us to see. For example, many people will read the statement "God Loves You" and briefly brush by it as a nice expression that makes us feel good without really dwelling on it. However, Chan will look at that very same statement and explain how monumental and mind blowing that is which should make the reader say, "Oh Wow!! I never thought of it that way! I did not know he loved me THAT much! I really want to get to know God"
While Chan falls into the majority of authors that are very good at identifying our problems in how we view God in relation to how we live, he offers something not many authors have....A solution. While some authors unintentionally cop out with statements like "I don't know what that looks like in your life" or "I am still trying to figure this out", Chan boldly offers solutions and ideas that actually make sense.
"We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God. You've probably heard the expression 'I believe in God, just not organized religion.' I don't think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live. The expression would change to 'I can't deny what the church does, but I don't believe in their God.' At least then they'd address their rejection of God rather than use the church as a scapegoat." - page 23/24
"When I am consumed by my problemsstressed out about my life, my family, and my jobI actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God's command to always rejoice. In other words, that I have a 'right' to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities." - page 43
"But we need to realize that how we spend our time, what our money goes toward, and where we will invest our energy is equivalent to choosing God or rejecting him. How could we think for even a second that something on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?" - page 96/97
There is a separate Crazy Love workbook along with a video series which is optional for the reader to further study and evaluate what they have learned and how they can apply what they have learned in their own lives. While these are both great resources to make the book even more rewarding to read, I would only recommend these additional purchases if done as a group study rather than doing it alone.
There is a reason Crazy Love has sold over 2 million copies and is a New York Times Best Seller. To be reading this book again 5 years later has definitely not lost its zeal. This book is worth every dollar and more. With its bonus chapter, a Q & A section with Chan, and even a sneak peek introduction of his book Multiply, this book really is the complete package. Simple as that.
Crazy Love is meant for everyone to read. I would even go as far to say that it is a mandatory read. Chan provides strong convincing and credible reasons that a loving intimate relationship with God is not crazy. It should make any person who reads this book to stop and think that maybe it is our small view of life and God that is actually crazy.
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