“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, ‘Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.’
Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ Then he looked at those around him and said, ‘Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’” – Mark 3:31-35
The website description for Kyle Idleman’s book, Not A Fan, states:
“fan: an enthusiastic admirer.
In the Gospels, Jesus never seemed too interested in fans.
Is that how you define your relationship with Him? An ‘enthusiastic admirer’? Close enough to get the benefits but not so close to require sacrifice?
He was looking for followers. Not just any follower though, but a. . .
COMPLETELY. COMMITTED. FOLLOWER.
How would things change if you lived as Jesus lived, and loved the way He loved? . . .”
Tim shared a story of a true fan, maybe even someone who could be referred to as a fanatic, on Sunday morning as he began his sermon.
And, while that certainly gave us a picture of what a fan can look like, I think this description from Kyle Idleman’s website gives us further insight into what a fan of Christ may look like.
What does it mean to be a fan, an enthusiastic admirer, of Jesus? What does that look like in our world? In our church? In our lives?
Some time ago, we stepped through the different stages of spiritual growth. On the spiritual growth chart, a fan may correlate to someone who is between spiritual infancy or spiritual childhood, someone who has accepted Christ and maybe has experienced or is experiencing a little bit of growth but has largely stagnated in their faith. Life is still pretty much all about them and their needs and comfort (summarized from the chart from page 32 of Exponential West Conference 2013 – ©2013 Relational Discipleship Network).
So, how does one step from being an enthusiastic admirer into a completely committed follower of Jesus Christ?
It takes time . . . and it takes relationship. So, what does that look like? Well, it looks like discipleship. One of the first devotionals for the Mark series challenged us to look at ourselves as disciples rather than as Christians. It put before us Bonhoeffer’s quote: “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.” If we are not moving forward into deeper discipleship, then we are not moving forward in our growth into a fully committed follower of Christ.
How do you move deeper into discipleship? You join a small group or Bible study, find those around you who are further along in their discipleship journey and ask to meet with them, maybe even work through our series of discipleship cards or sign up to be part of the next class of Men of Iron or Lineage of Love. And if you take these steps, keep in mind that you get out of them what you put into them. If you join a small group and simply come to the gatherings and listen to what everyone else has to say, you should learn a little bit. But if you are willing to dig deeper, to really think about the questions that are asked and enter into the dialogue within the group, it can be truly amazing how quickly you can grow in your faith.
There are additional steps you may take as well on your path of discipleship. Take a closer look at your spiritual gifts (if you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, there is a link on our website for a spiritual gifts analysis) and think about where you might be able to use them within the ministries of the church. If you are unsure of where you might best serve with your gifts and interests, schedule a spiritual gifts interview with Pastor Matt. A good fit in a ministry will not only allow you to be a blessing to others, but you may be surprised at how much it blesses and grows you as well.
Kyle Idelman defined someone who is a completely committed follower of Christ as having “lived as Jesus lived and loved as Jesus loved.” There is no way to do that except to step foot on the path of discipleship and to keep moving forward. That does not come without sacrifice, but the benefits far outweigh the losses.
So . . . which one will you be. . . a fan or a follower? We’ll be praying for you as you look to answer this question for yourself.