This Column Will Save Your Life
Let’s talk…Fan or Follower?
If someone asked you if you have ever done self-assessment would you say, “Huh?” Or quickly reply “Sure!” Most of us rarely take time to notice how we show up in life—how we see ourselves or ask others what do they notice about us. It is necessary for personal development and to ensure a balanced authentic Christian life.
Kyle Idleman, an author and senior pastor of the 5th largest church in America, wrote a book entitled Not a Fan. He chose the title to remind us that a fan is “an enthusiastic admirer.” He also wanted to remind us to do a spiritual self- check on the subject.
Pastor Idleman noticed that some of his parishioners we missing main points of what God asks of us and what he was trying to teach. It was clear that many people filling the seats were only fans. This book explores fandom and ways to reverse that mindset.
Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not too close that it requires sacrifices—like attending mid-week Bible studies, joining a group or leading a ministry. He says, some fans might be fine to attend church on Sunday, slap a fish sign on their car or repeat a prayer. But is that the relationship that Jesus is trying to have with us? Jesus is not looking for admirers. He doesn’t want fans. He doesn’t want our churches to be fan factories.
Fans are known by their language:
“I am not returning; I didn’t like the sermon bullet points.”
“I am too busy, why do they keep asking me to volunteer.”
“I would rather sit home and avoid hypocrites.”
“If I take a strong stand for Christ, my other friends won’t invite me to their parties.”
“I can worship Jesus on Sundays at my sports events.”
“I just didn’t feel entertained today.”
“I didn’t like the music, not what I am use to.”
Statements used to avoid coming to church -simply to praise, to worship and to give thanks.
In his book, Idleman calls on those who profess faith in Christ to diagnose the nature of what is their true relationship with Jesus. Far too many church goers are interested in how Jesus makes them feel or they only love what Jesus does for them. Here are some questions to reflect upon:
Have you made a decision “for” Jesus, or have you “committed’ to Jesus?
Do you know “about” Jesus, or do you know Him?
Are you more focused on the outside, or the inside?
Are you a self-empowered fan or a spirit-filled follower?
Idleman asks and explains this question:
Is Jesus One of Many or Your One and Only? Luke 14:26 – “If you want to be my disciple, you must “let go” (as if to part from) everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters…” This passage means to love Jesus the most. It is meant to help you rank your love, with Jesus supremely elevated above all others. If everyone in your family plus Jesus was in a race to compete for your love, who would finish over the line first? Jesus is saying I want to be first and I do not even want a second place. We can never compare Jesus to anyone else and there can never be any competition. Fans want to make Jesus one of many. Some fans even make Jesus first of many with “conditions”. But Jesus is crystal clear in how he defines his relationship with you. He wants to be your one and only. Is he?
A fan says, “I love you Jesus. I am committed to you but let’s not have an exclusive relationship—I have a calendar and a busy schedule”. Jesus is very clear that he wants people to know what they are signing up for when they say “I am a Christian” —A follower, not a fan.
The pastor summarizes this verse. “Many fans…like homeowners who sign on a dotted line to buy a house with no money down and interest only payments for a year, find themselves a little shocked to discover the terms Jesus actually laid out. But this wasn’t the fine print of his message, it was the main point. Fans do not put Jesus on the throne of their heart. Instead, they put a couch there, and at the most, Jesus gets a cushion.”
Let’s overcome fandom and not be stingy with our love. Who deserves the total sacrifice? Being a follower means we have to count the cost up front. It is our “all” that needs to be put on the line. If following Jesus costs you everything, wouldn’t it still be worth it? Romans 5:8 … “yet while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Let those words pierce your heart. It can bring about a miraculous change as you marinate in how much God loves you.
At times we will all be fans, yet only the gospel gives us the right message, the deepest peace, absolute forgiveness, truth of salvation, and the motivation to keep moving forward on the path with Christ. Contact: jeandavenportniles.com