The question was asked last Sunday morning from a guest speaker at a church I was attending. Are you a fan or a follower? What does a fan really look like? A fan is more of a cheerleader – ready to cheer Jesus to become famous in my city, state, nation and world! Yea, Jesus! Go Jesus! It’s really no commitment from me. A fan is in it for the entertainment value. The fan can be as involved as they want to be without risking too much. I can spur Jesus on from the sidelines and not really be involved on the playing field. We have a lot of “followers” in our social media but we should really call them fans instead. The ones who “follow” us are just on the sidelines checking out what we do or what we say. They aren’t involved in our lives following along behind us as we move throughout life. Jesus had followers while He walked this earth. He had people who listened to His every word. They lived with Him and ate with Him.
My inclination in answering this question was to say I am a follower. I really did believe that was my answer that Sunday morning. Last night, I heard a different message that fell right along these same thoughts. The message was from Andy Stanley on the “Brand New” message that Jesus delivered that was radically different in His day and time. The message is still radical today. Jesus came to bring an end to the “all about me” religion to the “others beside you” model. The New Testament can be described as the “doing to others as you would have them do unto you” example. This is how we honor and love God through our demonstration of love toward others. When I consider the difference between a fan and a follower, the follower gets this mentality of loving others just as Jesus loved us. The follower will do what Jesus did.
The New Testament is full of Jesus’ example of loving others everywhere, even from the cross. Pastor Stanley’s question was “What does love require of me?” I think this is really the essence of being a follower. All the commands that are reflected in the Bible relate to the “otherness” of Jesus. It’s how we relate to others. When we demonstrate love, it shows our love for Jesus. This is how we know when we are following Jesus. Demonstrating love cost God His Son. Demonstrating love demands more than of us but is pretty simple in application. This is how we should be known as Christians. Jesus said when we do for others then we are doing it for Him. Matthew 25:35-39 gives a list of ways to help others and in the end Jesus said when you do it for the least of these then you are doing it for Me. Pretty practical stuff that is easy to do but will cost us something.
I want to be a follower. I want to keep my eyes on the prize. I want to be on the field playing my heart out. I was a manager on the women’s basketball team in college. I know what it means to be on the sidelines every game. I didn’t have to commit to the hard times to become great on the field. I could be a supporter for those who were playing. I would rather have played, but I didn’t have game. Following Jesus means being committed to His game – His plan. The speaker on Sunday said Jesus really doesn’t need any more fans. Every knee – EVERY knee will bow before Him one day. It’s not a matter of having fans, but having committed followers who want to be in the game. He is the winning side; He has already given us the victory! He wants more players committed to the game. We are called to surrender, sacrifice and serve – that’s what it means to follow by giving our lives to loving others as Jesus first loved us.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Mark 8:34-36