While I can say I’ve been “reading” my bible consistently lately, I can’t say that I’ve been studying the Bible as much as I would like to admit. I can’t deny the historical evidence that bible studies, small group, etc. keeps me on track and gives me the push I need to dive in and seek wisdom more than just myself trying to pick something to explore. Hey, whatever works is the way I look at it and, now I’m confident what that looks like so, it’s what I’m going with.
I recently came across this quote that really struck a chord with me: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” ― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
I have a weird relationship with the word “success”. I say weird but, I have just never felt “successful” from any world point of view. Growing up, I thought success would look like a big house, multiple cars and of course, lots of money. Then I hit my anti-authority, punk rock, “money/greed is evil” phase (age 14) and thought I had everything figured out. I guess I was half-right…we know the love of money is the root of evil at least. Then, I graduated, always worked, always had more than enough, never really struggled with getting by but always had the question, “is this what life is about?”. All of this working, all of these hours…just to buy this…stuff? That question has really never changed but, I have a different outlook on “success” since having a relationship with God and that definitely helps give me purpose when I question where my time, energy and especially, love, goes.
I still have that weird feeling with the word “success”. We have such a worldly definition on the word and what it looks like. If you ask people from different parts of the world, especially from different eras, it is going to look like many different things. To some, it may look like survival. To others, it may look like excess. Either way, it looks different to different people. This isn’t a post about “success” and what it should look like…it should look like however you define it compared to God’s version of this in your own life.
Back to the quote’s purpose…so, reading this quote reminded me of Francis Chan. I never read any Francis Chan books, although I’ve wanted to, I just never took the time to buy one or borrow one (I know several that have his books). No reason why, I think it’s just because I had so many other books and studies “ahead” of his, I didn’t see a break far enough to see a good time to insert another book. I did really enjoy his preaching and hearing about his commitment to servitude and spreading of the gospel, making disciples, etc. so my heart was always open to hearing more from him if it happened to come my way.
I knew it was time for another anchor to help me study so I began seeking out a topic to dive in to. God’s love for us seemed like a really great topic at this moment. Being a parent, you quickly see parallels to this as you witness “sin nature” in real time! It’s actually a bit..amazing? Is that the right word? I’m not sure…I’m not sure what the right word is, I’ll go with amazing because “amazing” is supposed to catch you by surprise yet, it doesn’t always mean it’s a good thing. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ll witness a child go from a helpless infant to a greedy, selfish, manipulating mini-adult right before your eyes! And the “amazing” part is, YOU DIDN”T “TEACH” THEM THIS! There was no Sesame Street “Letter of the day is T for Theft” episode that taught them to steal toys from other 2 year olds. No “Chomp Goes The Toddler” (sung to Pop Goes The Weasel) nursery rhyme that teaches a toddler to bite someone if they don’t get their way! Nope, these things just happen and reflects the sin that is in our hearts already, even right now.
But, here’s the thing. As a parent, you still love your child. Though these moments and other moments, and even moments you may not have gotten to yet, you’ll still love your child. That won’t change, just like God’s love for us. Which, as you get older and you realize how obstinate you purposely become or act or even desire to be…I’m not sure about you, but I’m just amazed (again) that God hasn’t just turned his back on us. I’m amazed that God just hasn’t tried to kick the planet into the sun like a soccer ball and choose to start over with another Adam on planet Mars or something. But that’s not who He is (thankfully), we know that. These are just thoughts I remember having as I read the Bible for the first time as a believer! Even when I read the Bible with a very skeptical mind, trying to find fault and flaw with the written word, I was amazed at the grace, the “visibility” and the love God presented to mankind.
Which brings me to the study I chose to dive into this week. “Crazy Love”…the title says it all…God’s love for us may very well seem crazy when you think about it…the grace and patience given to us when any one of us mortals would’ve easily given up a long time ago. The first verse to read is Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
That verse hits very hard for me because I think mankind enjoys using the “I didn’t know better” excuse as often as possible. But to me, this verse reminds me of everything around us created by God that we are aware of, that has consequences, that you cannot deny. Take the wind for example. Can you see it? Sort of…you can see leaves move, trees sway, etc. Can you deny it? No. Can you claim ignorance? You better not if you’re in the path of a tornado or on a cliff. I can’t recall having a personal experience of someone denying wind. E.g., no one has ever said to me on a windy day, “What is that stuff moving everything around?” I would say, “uh, wind?”. To which they would reply, “Hmm…I don’t know.” Sounds crazy right? Yeah…we all know people that do that with God ‘tho.
Same thing applies to other elements that you have to acknowledge and respect if you want to live..oxygen, gravity, etc. I’ve never known anyone (in their right mind) to question these things and try to prove otherwise..at least not without consequence. Same thing with God. He has made Himself known to you and I. For us to deny or, even worse, say “we didn’t know better” would not hold up under judgment.
Now, there is another side to this where, people may know “about” God but they don’t know what we know or know the whole truth. This is our opportunity to teach them and make sure they do know so they can accept the whole Truth into their hearts and teach others. It’s almost like electricity, especially high voltage. To someone (maybe a child or inhabitant of a remote island) that has never experienced or at least been warned about high voltage, you would do everything you could to stop them from touching that wire if you yourself knew better, right? THAT is our calling as Christians, to spread the gospel and crazy love of God to others because WE know! When you look at creation, the things you can see and also the things you can’t see but feel and know that they are there (love is one of these things), it’s so easy to show that ALL of that and ALL of this is created by a Creator, a higher power, one who loves us and wants the best for us. Have you ever done that with someone? Someone who really did.not.know.better??
Is that what success looks like? I’m not sure. I know some may look at creating disciples as a form of success and there’s definitely merit in that but, to put such boundaries on an act that we are supposed to do limits the effort of our potential. The problem I have with a word like “success” is it indicates a finish line. Do “this” and you’ll be successful. “Make disciples” and that will be a measure of success. Like I said, there is truth in that statement but don’t let it end there. Make disciples, definitely, but keep investing and keep loving and don’t give up. The only finish line I see is when God calls me home finally. Until then, I’m going to give it all I got.