Thursday, May 9, 2013

Not a Fan of Jesus

Note: This blog has taken well over a month to write. I wanted to wait until my husband and I finished the book that went with the study by which this was inspired. Every few days I would add a few lines. I read and reread to make sure that what I was saying came out the way God would intend. I debated on whether to include some things and have prayed over this blog that it might inspire or encourage others to take a look at their walk with Christ. We have finished the book and I encourage every professed believer out there to read Kyle Idleman's book Not a Fan (because this post does not do it justice). And maybe, even if you're not a believer, you should read it anyway. 

That's right.

I'm not a fan of Jesus. At least, I don't want to be.

I want to be a follower. And, friends, there is a colossal difference between the two.

In our small group that meets every other Saturday, we are discussing the study "Not a Fan" by Kyle Idleman, a pastor of a mega church in Kentucky. This study seriously has us reviewing our current relationship with Christ and revamping the way we pattern our lives.

So, you may ask, what exactly is the difference between a fan and a follower?

A fan is someone who believes Jesus is the Messiah. They may have even made a decision at one point to walk down the aisle of a church and "be saved." But what about that person's life? Does anything about that life change? Does that person change their current lifestyle and make the conscious decision to FOLLOW CHRIST completely (in their entertainment choices, relationships, language, way they treat their children, etc.)? Kyle describes a fan as "an enthusiastic admirer." That's a great depiction of a fan of Jesus. A fan thinks Jesus is great. They may attend church every Sunday, they may do all the right things or say all the right things but in their hearts, when following Jesus gets a little "uncomfortable," they tend to "jump ship." They want to follow Jesus to an extent...but when following requires denying their own desires or sacrificing anything they hold close to them, then it's not as worth it as they thought.

The Church (in general) does a pretty good job of "prettying up" the gospel message. They make following Jesus look neat and tidy and they package it in a way that is the most appealing. I think the Church has good intentions, but sometimes those intentions result in unintended having churches (especially in America) full of raving fans instead of devoted followers. Kyle discusses how even he, in an effort to make following Jesus look as appealing as possible, inadvertently managed to cheapen the gospel. Following Jesus is not meant to be easy or comfortable. If you read the words of Christ carefully, you would clearly see that. He didn't come with a "prettied up" message. He came with a dangerous and often times offensive one. He told potential followers to "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Luke 9:60) or to "sell everything and give to the poor and then come follow me" (Mark 10:21) or "The foxes have holes and the birds have nests but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head" (Matt. 8:20). The question is: are you willing to follow whenever, wherever, whatever He may ask? He's a gentleman, so he's not going to force the issue, friends.

Which category have you chosen? Are you simply a fan of Jesus? Or are you a devoted, committed follower? Me? Too often I must admit, I fall into the fan category. I'm not proud of it by any means. My desire is to be a fully committed follower of Jesus, where my answer is "Yes, Lord!" before He even tells me what it is He wants me to do. This brings me to the next point that Kyle outlines in his poignant book. We often use the term "Lord" as a sort of synonym to "God." But, the word "Lord" has some very deep connotations to it. The moniker "Lord" was used as an address to a slave's master. A slave would call their master "lord." A slave, in case you missed the memo, does not belong to themselves. They are not in control. Their master, their "lord," controls them. The disciples called themselves "slaves." So when you call God your  "Lord," please know the implications of what you are saying. You are, in essence, saying that you are not your own. You BELONG to Christ. He is your Master and the filter through which all decisions are made. If you say that He is Lord of your life, well, you better live that out. By you, I first and foremost mean ME. I, for one, want to be a slave to Christ, chained to Him. Do I live that way day in and day out? Unfortunately not. But, therein lies the beauty of His grace too. Ah, grace...a topic for another time I'm afraid.

Kyle tells the story of a group of missionaries who were trying desperately to reach out to an enslaved people group but their masters only allowed slaves to converse with other slaves. So, in order to reach these slaves for Christ, the missionaries SOLD THEMSELVES into slavery. My husband and I stopped after that story and pondered that for a few moments. Would we? Could we? The question arose: do we care enough about the lost to sell our own selves into slavery to reach a lost group of people? I honestly don't know. I should. I need to. I desire to have that kind of heart....that kind of passion. That's my earnest prayer: that God would break my heart in pieces for the lost and broken of this world. My husband and I pray for the salvation of a certain individual every night and in the stillness after the prayer, God has spoken multiple times to my heart: "What would you give up in order to win his soul?" At one point, plain as day, I heard Him ask, "Would you give up your own life to save his for eternity?" The answer?

It took me awhile to get there. Transparently speaking, I wasn't sure. But now, without a doubt, I can say that I would. To insure that person's spot in eternity with Jesus, I would give up my own life. Now, my prayer is that I would feel that way about the rest of the lost. Then maybe I could truly call myself a follower.

More and more, God is molding me and chiseling away the junk and the baggage and the icky habits. He's making me His masterpiece. He's making me a follower. I may not be where I need to be or should be or even would like to be...but I can say without reservation now: I am not a fan.

If you're interested, you can purchase Kyle's book here. Read it. You won't be sorry.

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