The group of believers with whom I meet weekly recently started the video study based on Kyle Idleman’s excellent book, “Not a Fan”. It’s been a while since I read the book, but it was absolutely life changing for me, and I highly recommend you make it part of your annual reading list. I’ve written several articles in the past that were inspired by the book, but the group discussion has stirred some fresh thoughts in me and has challenged me to ask once again if I am truly a follower of Jesus or merely a fan. Am I sacrificing everything for the sake of following Him, or am I merely playing at this thing we call Christianity?
For those new to the fan vs. follower concept, a follower of Jesus is someone who lives their life with Christ as the central focus. We live our lives consistent with the model He set with His own life. In other words, we put the needs of others before our own. We provide food for the hungry, clean drinking water for the thirsty, care for the poor and sick, provide shelter for the homeless, and attend to those in prison (Matthew 25:31-46). We look after orphans, single mothers and widows, and we live a counter-cultural life (James 1:27). We eschew the world’s idea of success and prosperity in favor of God’s definition of those things.
A fan, on the other hand, professes a belief in God and perhaps even a relationship with Jesus Christ. They say the right things, pray when appropriate, attend church every week and probably even drop a percentage of their income into the offering plate when it is passed. They are in love with the idea of Jesus, but keep Him at arm’s length throughout their day to day lives. Jesus is cool with them as long as He is blessing them and keeping them safe and happy. They’ll volunteer from time to time but don’t want Jesus interfering with their plans and desires. They live a life that looks good from the outside, but in reality is blackened by selfishness, greed, and all kinds of lust.
Only you know whether you are a fan or follower. Certainly your life will provide some evidence to the truth, but at the end of the day it comes down to the attitude of your heart. Are you diligently seeking the things of God or pursuing your own agenda? Do you see time and money as something to accumulate or a gift that is intended to pass through your hands for the good of others? Are you busy building your empire or the Kingdom of God?
Followers mess up and sin. They are not perfect. They are fallible humans, just like those who are merely fans. What separates a fan from follower is the desire and attitude of their hearts. A fan holds back, lives well, and hopes for the best. A follower holds nothing back, lives in constant search of God, and holds fast to the hope of Jesus. Are you a fan or a follower?