Are you a fan or a follower?
Current statistics show that 79% of Americans consider themselves Christians. That means that 79% of Americans would say that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. I have come to realize, though, that these Christians can be characterized in one of two ways–one being a fan of Jesus and the other being a follower of Jesus.
I found this great definition of the characteristics of a fan.
“Fans usually have a strong enough interest that some changes in their lifestyles are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object. It is a person who likes and admires someone or something very much. Fans have a desire for external involvement – they are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending conventions, posting online, displaying team banners outside their homes, etc.). Fans often have a “wish to acquire” material objects related to the area of interest, such as a baseball hit by a famous slugger or a used guitar pick from their musical hero. As well, some fans have a desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions, all of it contributing to a greater sense of belonging.”
Think about this–fans have a desire for external involvement. I think that describes how many people approach their relationship with Christ. We like Jesus. In fact, most people would and could agree they admire Jesus. He loves everyone, even the filthiest of sinners. What’s not to admire about someone who loves everyone? And then there is the sacrifice. The giving of His life. Definitely admirable. But, Jesus does not desire admirers or fans. He desires followers, disciples. He wants His sons and daughters to walk daily with Him. Jesus isn’t looking for external involvement. He is looking for internal surrender and transformation!
Here are some 6 traits of a fan:
1. When bad things happen, God gets blamed. It is safe to say that when times get tough and life rages, fans blame and often bail on God.
2. It’s all about them instead of Him. A fan is driven by what is in it for them. Emotions play a huge role in their walk with God and they are easily offended.
3. Fans want to be entertained rather than to press in and pursue. It’s fun to watch and observe, but fans want to be an observer, not a player. They want a good game that keeps their attention, but they aren’t interested in getting personally involved.
4. Fans allow other people to show them who God is and don’t take the time to find out for themselves. When someone has a major failure and those around them turn away from God, they have just allowed a person to define God. Fans allow those around them to dictate how deep they go in their walk with God.
5. Fans are easily swayed by popular opinion & behavior, rather than by getting in the Word and discovering truth for themselves. Fans always cater to being politically correct.
6. Fans live a compartmentalized Christianity, rather than choosing to be fully surrendered. Fans view Jesus as a good insurance policy
Traits of a follower:
1. A follower trusts the character of God.
2. Followers realize it’s not all about them, but it’s about Him.
3. Followers choose to pursue and not to be entertained.
4. Followers have their own relationship with God and do not let those around them dictate their depth in their relationship with the Lord.
5. They know the Word, so they know His truth; therefore, it is easy for them to discern when the world and those around them contradict His truths.
6. A follower is fully surrendered.
Matthew 25:1-12 shows us a great example of the difference between a fan verses a follower.
Matthew 25:1-12: (NKJV)
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
The 5 virgins with the oil were wise and represent those that had relationship with the Bridegroom, because they were allowed into the wedding. These were followers. The 5 virgins without oil were foolish and represent those that did not have a personal relationship with the Bridegroom and were not included in the wedding. These were fans.
Fans want to be there for all the action. They want a front row seat and to be a part of what is going on. But, just as the 5 virgins did not know how to be prepared, neither do fans. They haven’t spent time with the Lord developing an intimate relationship with Him, reading His Word, learning to discern truth, receiving knowledge and wisdom through the Holy Spirit. The Lord is calling us into the secret place with Him, then we will know Him and He will know us.
I believe God is calling us as individuals, as well as Americans, to come back to our first love. In a culture where being a fan is normal, let us not translate this approach to our relationship with God where we can “have it our way.” Being a follower is about total surrender, laying it all down simply because He did it first.
– Christa & Cheryl Pitcairn