Not a Fan of Jesus…

Posted: February 28, 2012 in Faith/Christianity
Tags: , , , ,

The title alone probably brought a little curiosity and an abrupt ‘say what?‘ to your mind, but it’s not what you think!

Back in August of I was reading an article in Huffington Post Canada called ‘Why I’m Not a Fan of Jesus‘, and although I was intrigued with the article, I quickly glanced over a few lines, and then moved on with my other pressing duties of the day (probably a game of Angry Birds, or a re-fill of Captain Crunch).  I made the classic error of judging the book before ever reading much more than the cover.  I was under the impression it was a typical post-modern, emerging church article slamming the orthodox church crowd because of the image of Christianity ‘we’ display isn’t in the approval ratings of the crowd with all the answers.

Well I was a little right, but mostly wrong!

Fast-forward a few months to February 28, 2012 and I found myself face-to-face with a similar article from the same fella who wrote the original one I passed off.  This time I wasn’t as hasty, and actually read it through with an open and interested mind.  I’m glad I did!  The author, Kyle Idleman is the lead pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and he and his congregation were confronted with the same question he posed in the article Am I a fan, or a follower of Jesus?

For Idleman, it started out a couple years ago as a dilemma in wondering what to preach during  an up-coming Easter weekend service.  He admitted going through the normal, and self-absorbing, thoughts many pastors go through when preaching to a large crowd.  His worries were focused on what kind of ‘angle’ he would use to catch folks, and cause them to want to come back again without offending them with the ‘politically incorrect’ Easter message.  He felt convicted, like many more of us probably have felt, and asked God what He wanted him to preach…and it wasn’t a typical ‘feel good’ message.  Idleman explained to his congregation;

I’m sorry for sometimes selling Jesus cheap and watering down the gospel in hopes that more of you would fill these seats.”

He then followed that up with a message series entitled ‘Not a Fan‘, where their church went word-for-word though Luke 9:23, where Jesus invites people to follow him.  The question was posed honestly to himself, and his congregation: “Am I a fan or a follower of Jesus?”  This led them through a series of self-examination and taking inventory of what things in their lives marked them as true Christ-followers, and what marked them as casual ‘groupie’ fans.

Let’s see, if the population of the United States is about 311 million and 75 percent are Christians that brings the number of Christians to somewhere in the neighborhood of 233 million. That’s a lot of Christians. I don’t see nearly that many Jesus fish on car bumpers. I don’t know, maybe all the Darwin fish ate them.”  ~Kyle Idleman~

I have to admit, after reading through the “Am I a Fan or Follower?” article, that question smacked me right between the retinas!  What living and visible evidence is there in my everyday life that sets me apart as a true disciple and follower of the Way?  Or does my normal day-to-day routine resemble more of a typical Toronto Maple Leafs bandwagon fan?…you know the ones that ride on the wagon when everything is going well, but as soon as the ride gets a little too bumpy, they start jumping off and looking for a new ride!  I’d like to think I live a pretty consistent Christian life, but then I read the gospels and I have to ponder the question deeper.  I mean really…in today’s world standards, how does one know?

A Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ. So, I’m thinking that what might help make sense of the 233 million number is a new word to describe people who identify themselves as Christians but have little interest in actually following the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps instead of “followers,” it would be more accurate to call them “fans.”

The word fan is most simply defined as, an enthusiastic admirer. And I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Some fans may even get dressed up for church on Sunday and make their ringtone a worship song. They like being associated with Jesus. Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them. They want a no-strings-attached relationship with Jesus.” ~Idleman~

So instead of feeling guilty and beat down, I’m going to use this as a challenge to make sure I’m living my life as a true, authentic and committed follower, and not just a groupie fan.  I agree with Idleman’s assessment of the cultural misconception of what is means to be a Christ-follower…simply believing a few truths, going to church and hopefully doing more right than wrong in life.  That kind of thinking certainly will produce a few fair-weather fans along the way, but the hard-core, committed follower is searching for something deeper…something more meaningful.

I’ve worked in the vocational church context long enough to know that there tends to unfortunately be more fans than followers in the pews.  The problem is that the fans think they are followers, and many of the followers are becoming impatient and intolerant of the fans.  But I still believe in the church, because we (the church) still represent the ONLY hope for the world, which is Christ Jesus in us.  So instead of heckling the ‘fans’, I want to be someone who will encourage and challenge them to come along for the trill-ride of being a true north follower of the only one worth following at all…Jesus!  Hopefully the ‘followers’ will do the same!

You can check out the not a fan. website for more stories and resources…just click the image below.




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