Overwhelmed By A Relentless God
Author: Francis Chan, with Danae Yankoski
Soft Cover, 186 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
In this book, Francis Chan encourages Christians to take their faith seriously. Chan repeatedly calls us to question whether we are just going through the motions, or living out of a deep love for God. It challenges our complacency, our selfishness and our comfort – and offers us God and his call on our lives. Having heard Chan speak, I had very high expectations for this book. I must admit, his voice does not come through as well as I might have hoped. However, the book remains a powerful call to follow Christ into the world.
In the preface, Chan sets up a habit of asking hard questions. Throughout the book he shares how asking himself these questions has shaped a commitment to Christ – personally and in the life of his church. Chan begins the book by asking his readers to think seriously about who God is before they utter another prayer. An active love begins with recognizing who God is, how much above all other things. From this vantage he moves to showing the reader the temporary character of this life, and the foolishness of basing our future on our own happiness and comfort. This allows him to then point out God’s love in comparison to our unworthiness. Chan recognizes that despite this love in the face of our failure, many Christians and many churches struggle to be faithful and growing. It isn’t that they don’t know what they should do – they just haven’t accepted the cost.
Chan pulls no punches describing what it means to be lukewarm. His aim is to make believers recognize that lukewarm love is no love at all, and those struggling with being lukewarm need to consider whether faith is even real in their lives. One could read his words as harsh, but I don’t feel like he was trying to guilt readers into a passionate love – which would be foolhardy at best. He wants his readers to take a probing look at their hearts and the way they serve. He wants the reader to see how their checkbooks, their priorities, the way they schedule and order their lives all shout aloud where their hearts are.
This book is not just invective against a lack of commitment. Chan lays out a picture of obsession, of passion, and what it looks like in real life. He then gives the reader concrete examples to challenge them. These range from families serving in a local setting to young and old alike heading into unknown lands for the call and care of the lost. Bottom line, Chan doesn’t want to beat down Christians with their failure – he wants them to realize that a comfortable life is not the life we have been called to. He wants them to accept God’s call, knowing that the cost is high, but the reward is awesome – an active relationship with the God of the universe, an opportunity to please God and be identified with the Son.
This book is full of practical examples from history and Chan’s own pastoral background. Chan has a passion for the lost and hurting that comes through in the pages of this book. The text is quite readable, though it is likely to cause you moments of pause as you look into your own motivation and passion. Take the opportunity for regular prayer throughout the book. Chapter transitions are brief, with Chan moving between topics quickly, though the chapter progression builds to the conclusion well, in my opinion.
Overall, I would give this book ★★★★☆.