Book Review: Crave by Chris Tomlinson

Title: Crave: Wanting So Much More of God
Author: Chris Tomlinson
Publisher: Harvest House

Chris Tomlinson hates being a comfortable Christian—one who believes in God and wants to do his will, but isn’t fully committed to being a disciple of Jesus and all this entails. And that’s why he wrote Crave, to explore the deeper longings of his heart that being comfortable simply can’t satisfy. He wants to be a passionate follower of Jesus.  And he wants you to be one, too.

Getting over himself…

Over 16 short chapters, Tomlinson gives readers a glimpse into his struggle to, essentially, get over himself and to be consumed by his craving for more of God. Whether sharing his futile attempts to pray more by training himself using a green post-it note (the same way he developed a habit of flossing daily), trying to figure out how to help a tween girl on a plane whose diary he’s inadvertently read, or considering the gift of suffering, he is extremely transparent about his own sin and selfishness.

What’s refreshing is that he doesn’t wallow in it. Being “authentic” isn’t his idol because he’s realiz(ing) that he’s not the big show. God is. 

…to embrace a terrifying and wonderful God

Perhaps that’s why I found chapter 8, Different, to be so moving. In this chapter, Tomlinson explores the game we all like to play, “If I were God…” You know the one, right? It’s the game where we put ourselves in God’s role and pass judgment on others and (inevitably) on God Himself because we think we’d be better a God than God. In exploring the otherness of God, he is forced to ask the question, “Am I sure I want so much more of this God?” (p. 109)

Tomlinson’s question is profound: Do we really want to crave the God created the heavens and the earth, and man and called him very good, who later regretted ever having made humanity and flooded the earth? Do we want more of the God who planned the brutal death of His Son on a filthy Roman cross—this terrifying and powerful God who loved the world so much that He sent His Son to suffer and die for us? The God who saves His enemies by His grace, even though we can do nothing to warrant such kindness and mercy?

God is different. He’s much more terrifying than I had imagined but also so much more glorious and beautiful than I thought possible. I’ve spent too many years glossing over hard truths about God in favor of pleasant ones in an attempt to make Him much more palatable to my taste or softer to the touch of others’ ears. . . . I know this is hard to deal with intellectually, emotionally and spiritually, but the simplicity and cogency of Scripture bring us face-to-face with a God who takes our sin and His holiness really seriously (pp. 110-111). 

This is the God we need to crave, because He’s the only God worth seeking after. And He commands our obedience.

Relationship defined by obedience

This is a point that is lost among many Christians today. It’s pretty trendy to say things like, “It’s not religion; it’s relationship” when talking about the Christian faith. And that’s true, but too frequently it’s used to blast the idea of having rules or the need to be obedient to anyone or anything. After all, rules don’t create intimate relationship.

But how did Jesus say our relationship with Him is defined? By obedience.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me…

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word…Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love (John 14:21, 23-24, 15:10, emphasis mine).

This point is not lost on Tomlinson, who writes, “Perhaps rules don’t create intimacy by themselves. Maybe they create the space for intimacy” (p. 125).

Love and obedience go together. Intimacy and rules go together. You can’t separate one from the other. . . . This takes us back to grace. None of this abiding or obeying or joining happens without grace. We said that rules point to grace, and now we see how. Apart from the work of Jesus on the cross, our legalism acts as a blade that severs the branch from the vine. . . But through Jesus’ death, through His grace, our obedience in faith allows our branch to abide in His vine, and His love begins to flow through us (pp. 126-127).

Are we willing to crave more of His grace and be obedient to Him?

Willing to get uncomfortable

Crave made me uncomfortable in a really healthy way. It wasn’t so much that it taught me anything new, but it reminded me of how far askew I can get in my own priorities. I struggle to be consistent in prayer, so I try to pray harder out of my own effort and fail miserably (perhaps I need to take Pastor Zac’s advice and stop trying so hard [p.35]). I get annoyed about silly, petty things that rob me of the joy of enjoying God. I fight what the Holy Spirit is leading me to do at times because I’m afraid it will disrupt the status quo.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to be comfortable. But being comfortable doesn’t cut it. Being satisfied with less less than Christ doesn’t cut it.

If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauty you ever saw…could you be satisfied…if Christ was not there? (p. 202, quoting John Piper)

There’s no room in the Christian life for being “comfortable.”

I want to be uncomfortable. How about you?

Recommended


 A review copy of this book was provided by Harvest House Publishers

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  • Lark

    Christ calls us to give all: love, joy, pain, suffering. I think we tend to focus on those instead of the GIVING part. I think it might be the act of giving all that we dance around. Nice review.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks, Lark.

      Your comment on dancing around giving Christ all has been stuck in my head since I read it. After all, look how many folks tell us that we should have it all–health, wealth, good relationships and a dash of Jesus, too.

      But Jesus said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).

      Not sure if I went off on a bit of a tangent there. Probably shouldn’t be posting comments late at night.

      Anyway, thanks again for your thoughtful comment, Lark.

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