By Stan Friedman
KNOXVILLE, TN (July 18, 2012) – Speaker Francis Chan had the audience at the CHIC 2012 Main Stage event questioning their faith. And he did it with a biblical style of humor in which the hearers are caught off guard.
Chan is a former pastor who has written the best-selling books Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and Erasing Hell. He also founded Eternity Bible College and sits on the boards of directors for Children’s Hunger Fund and World Impact.
As was the case the previous two nights, Chan preached from a text in which Jesus asks a question of the disciples. He shared with the 5,000 students in the Thompson-Boling Arena the incident in which the resurrected Jesus had asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
The thrice-asked question connected with the three times Peter had denied Jesus even though the impetuous disciple had been quick to declare he would never deny his master. After answering the third time, Peter, grieving over what he had done, replied, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you!”
Jesus was not asking the question to castigate Peter, but to restore him, Chan said. He asked the audience what their reply would be if Jesus asked them, “Do you love me?” It is a question not to be answered too quickly or too lightly.
Chan told the crowd that his wife was in the audience and asked them to play journalist for a moment by asking him questions they believed would indicate whether he loved her. The students asked what emotions Chan felt when he thought of her, if he would die for her, or if there is anything he wouldn’t do for her.
One question demonstrated how times are changing. A student shouted, “Is it Facebook official?” which brought laughter from throughout the arena.
Chan surprised the crowd by then asking them questions that might help them answer whether they could honestly reply “yes” to Jesus. They were the same questions the students had just asked him about his marital relationship.
Even the question about the ubiquitous social media site gave insight. “Seriously, what does your Facebook look like?” he asked. “Is it obvious on your Facebook that you love God or is it obvious that you love yourself?”
Christians need divine help to fully answer the question, Chan said. He encouraged the students to have an open and vulnerable heart like King David’s, who asks God in Psalm 139 to “Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In an extended illustration that enthralled the audience, Chan drank from two different beverages – lemonade and Starbuck’s Frappuccino. Much to the disgust of the gathering, he alternated between the two.
Christians too often do the same, switching between holy and sinful behavior. Finally, he poured the coffee into the lemonade to show what happens when sin is allowed to rule part of a person’s life – it makes the rest distasteful.
Chan told the worshipers that hiding the truth about sin with which they are struggling and trying to look as if they have their lives together would have eternal consequences. What’s going to happen at the end because you just keep this façade going?” he asked. “So then, you go to hell and you say to yourself, ‘Oh, but that’s okay because everyone up on earth thinks I’m in heaven. I fooled them.’ That’s your goal?”
Chan ended by asking the students to pray quietly and be open to God so that they might listen and confess. And be restored.
The popular band Skillet closed the evening.