Fan: an enthusiastic admirer.
Jesus had tons of fans. When he spoke sermons, thousands of people came to gather to hear what he had to say. Imagine a football stadium where thousands of people came to watch the Steelers kick some butt. They come with signs, their faces painted, and a whole lot of rowdiness. True fans know everything about the Steelers; how many times they’ve won the Superbowl, how many players are on the team, and everyone’s name and number. But do they really KNOW the Steelers? Their life stories, their struggles, their family life? The honest answer, which might be hard for those diehard fans to admit, is no.
Jesus had thousands of fans. People heard about his miracles. People saw what he was doing. People would come from everywhere to see what this man was going to do next! Jesus must’ve felt pretty awesome to have all those people as fans. I mean, who wouldn’t?! But you see, that’s where the issue lies. These people knew about Jesus, the miracles he performed, and the sermons he preached. But they did not KNOW Jesus. They only knew about him. Jesus got serious, and he decided that it’s about time he defines the relationship. He didn’t want fans. In fact, during one sermon he preached, many people got up and left because Jesus wanted more than their fandom…He wanted them as a whole. All of them. And those fans thought, “Well, that miracle stuff was good while it lasted. Let’s peace out.” And they did just that. I can picture the disciples thinking, “Jesus, dude, what are you doing?! You’re losing all of your fans that we worked so hard to get!!” But Jesus didn’t care how many people he lost due just because he got serious and wanted to define the relationship. He wanted true followers. And a lot of people walked away because they were only fans. They were only enthusiastic admirers.
If I ask you if you are a fan or a follower, most of you who are Christians would say follower. And it’s those that say they’re followers who are at risk of being fans.
When I first started reading Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman, I really wish Josh Knipple, my friend and pastor of Crucified Church, would’ve given me a little warning. You know, one that would’ve said, “Abby, this book is going to completely mess up your life. You’re going to get angry when reading this. Your life is going to be changed. This book is going to interfere with your life and who you are.” That little warning would’ve made me stop and probably not read the book. I liked my life the way it was going. I always considered myself a follower of Jesus. I mean, I am here in South Africa. But when I opened Not A Fan and started to read it, my life has been turned upside down. I started to realize that for so many years, I’ve only been a fan of Jesus.
I wanted to stop reading. I didn’t want to hear anymore how badly I’ve gotten this following Jesus thing so messed up. But I just couldn’t stop reading. Every night, I would fall asleep reading that book. Every morning before work, I would read a chapter. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know what was happening to me; my perspective on everything was changing. I found myself crying every time one chapter was over because I was so moved. I found I was able to explain things better when trying to talk about Jesus. I found myself speaking up to the church I attend in South Africa about what I believe. I found myself tearing up when talking to my co-workers about the Holy Spirit. I found myself understanding the sermons Jesus was talking about. I found myself on my knees on my bedroom floor before God, asking Him to take all of me. And this stuff didn’t just happen for one day. It was continuously happening. The first thing I told myself when this was happening to me was, “I’m so happy Josh never told me what this book would do to me.”
Someone recently told me, “I honestly don’t like that book. This Christian thing is hard enough without people saying you’re doing it all wrong.” There is a lot of truth in that, if we’re being honest here. But I’m going to burst this person’s bubble for second and tell him that that’s the point. “This Christian thing” is hard enough as it is. We don’t want to be told what we’re doing wrong because being a fan of Jesus is hard enough. Now imagine if Jesus would tell us to walk away from our families, have Him be our one and only, risk our lives, and become His follower…oh wait. The point is, Kyle, the author of Not A Fan, isn’t telling us what we’re doing right or wrong. He’s simply describing the difference between fans and followers, and he leaves it up to us to decide what we feel is right or wrong and where we stand on the fan or follower scale. That person who told me how they don’t want to be told what they’re doing wrong proved that God stirred something in their heart. If you walk away from that book absolutely hating it because in interfered with your life, then Kyle did his job. And he did it well.
I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m a follower of Jesus, because I feel that to amount up to what being a follower really means is much more than what I can grasp right now. I’m learning what it means to be a follower. And the scariest part about all of this is that I didn’t even mean to learn that.
A few nights ago, I just got finished reading the book Radical. I was crying, and I wasn’t sure why. I closed the book, lifted up my hands, and just cried…and I couldn’t stop. The tears were just falling from my face, and that night, God met me where I was at. That night, I was called to give up my life for the sake of Jesus Christ; my old self died that night. I was called to spend the rest of my life telling other people about the man who saved me; who gave me salvation and grace when I least deserved it. And I realized that I wasn’t crying because I was scared; I was crying because I couldn’t even IMAGINE a better way to live the rest of my life. Going is a command. The calling is where and how long. But going; we’re commanded to do that.
“Go.” I think I will always be going. I realize that this means I might never get married because finding a man who is willing to sacrifice his dreams because his wife feels called by God to always be going is hard. I realize that I may lose my friends. I realize that my family may think I’m crazy. And I realize that I might lose my life. But to be able to tell someone about what Jesus has done in my life, and to be able to tell someone that they don’t have to live the way they do anymore because there is grace freely given to us…man, THAT IS WORTH IT.
I realize that some of you might be thinking I’m crazy, and I’m here to tell you that yes, this is crazy. A month ago, I never would’ve thought like this. But the Holy Spirit is real, alive, and He is moving and working inside of me! You will be considered crazy for following Jesus. And that is the best compliment you will ever receive in your life.
My name is Abigail Cable, and I am not a fan.