I have described Pastor Chan as obsessed about God and he thinks all true Christians should be also. In fact in Chapter 8 he has 13 markers for the “obsessed” person. Today I want to comment on 6 of those markers and tomorrow I will comment on the other 7.
- “People who are obsessed with Jesus give freely and openly, without censure. Obsessed people love those who hate them and who can never love them back.” This is a high bar God raises because most of us think twice as we encounter opportunities to give. I have heard many Christians excuse their lack of giving to the homeless by saying things like “That guy is panhandling for a living” or “He will just use your money to buy drugs” or “They put themselves in that poor situation with their bad choices. They don’t deserve my help.” One day when a skeptical friend questioned another’s charity to a homeless individual, here was a response that seems appropriate for a Christian. “I am told by my Lord give to the poor; what the poor person does with the money is on them. I give it; I am not in charge of how they spend it.” When I think about the 2nd part of this obsession, the part about loving those who hate, I am reminded about the response from family members of Emmanuel African Methodist Church when they heard of the death of their family members and church members in the murder that took place earlier this summer. They forgave the killer. That fits the profile of the obsessed Christian but many of us find it hard to do.
- “People who are obsessed with Jesus aren’t consumed with their personal safety and comfort”. This means that obsessed Christians are willing to go where they are needed to help those in need. Where they have to go may be dangerous; what they will be called on to do will be uncomfortable but they go anyhow, because that is what God wants and they know God will protect them. A true believer will know that even in harm’s way, God is there and lack of safety and lack of comfort can just draw us closer to God. Pastor Chan writes “we have elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is.” We do this out of fear for our safety.
- “People who are obsessed with Jesus live lives that connect them with the poor in some way or another.” Some may think that # 3 is much like the first part of number 1 but I see two big differences. Giving freely in number one is not just giving to the poor and when Pastor Chan says we should “connect” with the poor, he means get to know the poor person as a person. Connection is a rare thing in this world today and it is needed as we isolate ourselves more and more from our fellow human beings. Probably no one feels isolation more than a person who is “down and out.” They need more than money sometimes; they need friendship. If you had some things to give to a poor person, would you have a hard time finding a way to get it in their hands? Like Pastor Chan, you don’t know anyone who is poor. All the people that you know have enough.
- “Obsessed people are more concerned with obeying God than doing what is expected or fulfilling the status quo.” The enemy of the active Christian is the status quo because when one worries more about public perception than fulfilling real need, they are no longer obeying God. They are more concerned with fitting in with their friends.
- “ A person who is obsessed with Jesus knows that the sin of pride is always a battle. Obsessed people know that you can never be ‘humble enough,’ and so they seek to make themselves less known and Christ more known. I remember the story about Billy Graham who should get credit for leading so many people to know Jesus. After making an evangelistic plea which usually caused many people to come to the altar, he would take a seat on the rostrum. He always had a person sit beside him who was told to whisper in his ear “It was God; not you.” Too often Christians want to take credit for something that was never them. God working through them accomplished the goal but they stand in the way of giving God the glory.
- “People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving his people.” Have you ever struggled to get to church or Sunday School? Maybe you just can’t come to church on Wednesday night for Wonderful Wednesdays. You want to sing but you can’t make it to choir practice. When the church has a special event it is too hard to get there. What about that mission trip or helping the youth director when she is taking the youth on a trip? When the United Methodist men are working on a project, you stay home. When the United Methodist women are having a project, you fail to contribute. Obsessed people don’t hesitate to help. They realize that God will show up and where they are going yields a blessing. Many Christians like the label but they are never around to serve those in the church or those outside the church. They are too busy to work for God.
Part 2 in my next post…