I had the privilege of listening to Francis Chan today at an event in Los Angeles - it was a prayer breakfast for the Mayor. The event was really wonderful, full of good music, prayer for the city and those in leadership, and meeting new people. Many men and women had the chance to pray or share a quick word, but we were fortunate to hear from Francis as he shared the message.
I know of Francis Chan like many do. I'm a "reformed" guy and so how could I not? But, I'm really not all that familiar with him. I haven't listened to his podcasts, haven't read his books - I just know him by reputation. He has been a slightly controversial figure as of late as he recently stepped down from a thriving church to follow what he believes God is calling him to next (among other things). But, what I can say about him now is this man is an example of a man who loves God with an excitement and passion we rarely see from many figures we look to.
This was a prayer breakfast so, naturally, he spoke on prayer... kinda. Early in his sermon he told us how he had always thought there was a disparity between the radical nature of the Word of God and what he found at church. Everyone seems OK, he thought, so this must be normal. Now he finds himself at a place in his life when this isn't good enough. He told us that he doesn't care now about offending anyone, he doesn't care about being politically correct, he isn't afraid to tell it like it the Bible tells it - aggressively.
He spoke about concepts like, "God doesn't listen to all your prayers, or every one's prayers." He spoke about a God who is shrouded in light. He spoke of a God who is often annoyed by the "praises" of his people who worship him with their lips but who disregard his commands, a God who takes not delight in empty fasts. He spoke about a God who loves and delights in those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter those in the elements. It is then that this God says:
"Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." (Isaiah 55)
People were "amen-ing" and "uh huh-ing" Francis all the time he spoke. It was very moving. But, the funny thing was this man was saying things that probably made more people in that room uncomfortable. He sounded fanatical.
I am only 29 years old. I haven't been around for that long... but I sense a change is happening in God's people. There are many men, men like Francis, who have been re-captivated by the awesome beauty, majesty, and sovereignty of our God - and they celebrate this God and would despise a life comprised of anything other than total and utter dependency, worship, obedience and intimacy with this God. Nothing else matters! Nothing else can satisfy this thirst we have. And there is no message more radical than that of the life and words of Jesus.
This Jesus we worship is more radical, I think, than any of us will ever understand. He does not wait to be invited to be the Lord of your life, He is already the Lord of all things, the King of Kings. The Father has given all things to him. There is not a breath of air you can take that is not granted to you by this Jesus. This Jesus demands nothing less than every single ounce of marrow you have to offer, not in oppression, but in life. If you are not experiencing the pervasive explosion of the power of God, than you may not know him. If you have asked a little Jesus to be a part of you life as you pursue your ambitions, you may find that you have been praying to a figurine. This Jesus who commands infinite galaxies in their paths desires to have intimacy with you. This God you pray to has absolute power and an absolute will to give life. This God is terrifying in power and holiness. And, he has created you to participate in His glory. Christianity is as boring as a volcano exploding out of the side of a tidal wave in a hurricane.
I have been more prompted than ever to dig in. To really dig in with both feet, to take God at his word, to believe these things Jesus has taught us about radical life. Let us come to know this God more and more. What an incredible journey we have before us, one that will last for an eternity.
Written: March 6, 2011
Written: March 6, 2011