Francis Chan takes a refreshing and challenging look at what it means to live as a Christian in our culture today by taking a fresh look at the Gospels. He aims to leave behind preconceptions, expectations and personal bias.
Students and 20-30s at Portswood Church will be familiar with the book because over the last year we've been going through it chapter by chapter in "The Lounge", and discussing it together. It has been an exciting challenge.
The book reminds us that we are saved entirely by God’s grace; there’s absolutely nothing that we can do to be saved other than believe and trust in Jesus. This is actually quite amazing and the only correct response from us is for our hearts to be on fire for Jesus, giving Him our whole lives, everything that we have…
And sometimes we do … but often as Christians our response tends to be quite lukewarm. This book gives examples of how inappropriately we respond to the incredible grace that we’ve been given. If the only difference that Jesus makes in our lives is that we go to church on a Sunday and sing a few songs…that’s not right and we are often left feeling unsatisfied and thinking there must be more to the Christian life!
Jesus’ teaching were really radical two thousand years ago and are still radical today. Sometimes we dilute His teachings to make them more accessible, more manageable and comfortable for us, a bit less extreme.. However, when we read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, we can clearly see that He neither expects nor wants half-hearted followers. With Jesus it’s all or nothing!
Our problem is that we often compare ourselves to the people alongside us in Church and maybe compared with them, we think we're doing okay. However when we set our eyes on the standard Jesus sets, we see that we have a long way to go!
“Jesus didn’t just die to save us from Hell, he died to save us from our bondage to sin.”
In our Christian life, we settle for so much less than God offers us. Being more loving and more obedient will not make us more saved than we already are. Salvation is a gift of His incredible grace! However we can seriously miss out if we don’t give Him our all. We’ve been saved and transformed and as a result have the opportunity to benefit from His wonderful joy and blessing. He offers us great riches.
And so we don’t want to just be happy with the way things are, but that doesn’t mean we should become guilt-driven activists either! The book challenges us to live as people ‘obsessed’ with Jesus! Obsessed in a good way!
The author explains why we should be obsessed like this:
“The idea of holding back certainly doesn’t come from Scripture. The Bible teaches us to be consumed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words. The Holy Spirit stirs in us a joy and peace when we are fixated on Jesus, living by faith, and focused on the life to come.”
We can’t simply ‘try-harder’ to serve Him more, we need our hearts changed. As we love Him more, then our hearts are transformed.
Being obsessed with Jesus will have incredible and life changing consequences. The book gives examples of what we consider ‘extreme’ and ‘radical’ lives but argues that these should be ‘normal’ and ‘expected’ ways of living for people obsessed with Jesus.
All this is not about earning any favour in God’s eyes, far from it, but since we have been so blessed by Him, we long to love Him more and give our whole lives to Him and enjoy all he has to offer!Sim