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Fan or Follower?

(This post I originally wrote in December 2004.  Since my wife and I are leading the Not a Fan study for Sunday School I thought it was time to update it)

Rachel Scott, one of the teenage girls killed at Columbine, wrote this to a friend, "What is faith when you are a fan instead of a follower? What is Christianity when it is a label instead of a lifestyle? What is life when living without the LIFEMAKER? " (The Journals of Rachel Scott, p. 53).

It is easy to be a fan of Jesus. People around the world see Jesus as a wise man with great teachings. It is recognized that if people truly lived to the morality Jesus taught this world would be a much better place. To see Jesus as just a great moral teacher means you are just one of his many fans.  While it is easy to be a fan, it is hard to be a follower, to allow Jesus to interfere with the way we live.

Remember being a Christian isn't about mentally accepting that what Jesus said is true. A Christian isn't a person who quotes Jesus alongside the philosophers of old trying to make the world see the logic of living right. A Christian is not a mere fan of Jesus; he is a follower.

A follower differs from a fan because a fan remains on the sideline cheering, but a follower gets into the game and does what he has been taught. A follower not only loves Jesus' teachings, but he also trusts who Jesus is. A fan may love aspects of Jesus, but he is not willing to trust for who Jesus is.

Kyle Idleman in his book Not a Fan, wrote:
"Most of us don't mind Jesus making minor change in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down.  Fans don't mind him doing a little touch-up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation.  Fans come to Jesus thinking tune-up, but Jesus is thinking overhaul.  Fans think a little makeup is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover.  Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel.  Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives" (p. 31).

Our Christianity does us no good if we just use it as a label because we are fans of what Jesus says. We acknowledge that Jesus tells the truth, and so we cheer Jesus as He teaches, but we miss out on the benefit of truly following Jesus.

Christianity makes a difference in our lives only when we follow Jesus. This isn't about morality, but it is about trusting Jesus with our lives.  Being followers of Jesus means we set as our goal to live as Jesus lived, to follow His example and to rely on His Spirit.  Therefore we need to believe that in Jesus we find life. Following Jesus gives us life!

In the book of Luke we read about some encounters Jesus had with a few people who expressed an interest in following Him.
As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! * Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God”
  (Luke 9:57-62; NLT).

Each one of these people Jesus encountered in this passage were fans.  When it came to Jesus interfering in their lives they were not ready to follow Him.  For Jesus it wasn't enough that they saw him as a great teacher; He didn't simply want them to be fans. Jesus basically says that fans are not going to be able to find the life God created them to have.  That is why Jesus ultimately wants us to be followers.  We need to sacrifice the security and comfort we desire for our lives and step out into the unknown and follow Jesus wherever He leads us. To be a follower of Jesus requires us to trust Him more than we trust ourselves. We can't just be fans, we have to become followers.


Anonymous said…
You're right. You hear so much "Jesus was a great man but there were others.."

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