Not A Fan (1): Too much “belief”, not enough “follow”

(Part 1, Chapter 1 & 2)

Not A Fan asks you to define your relationship with Jesus. Are you a fan or a follower? What’s the difference? Well, fans are ‘enthusiastic admirers’: they

“…confuse their admiration for devotion. They mistake their knowledge of Jesus for intimacy with Jesus. Fans assume their good intentions make up for their apathetic faith.”

In short, fans don’t want the same thing from their relationship with Jesus that Jesus does.

“…Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down. Fans don’t mind him doing a little touch-up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation. Fans come to Jesus thinking tune-up, but Jesus is thinking overhaul. Fans think a little makeup is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover. Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel. Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives.”

Kyle starts by categorising the readers of his book into two groups: the “Jesus fish on the back of my car” group and the “Why is there a fish on the back of my friend’s car?” group. I think there’s a third: the “I probably should have a fish on my car” group. Those are the fans who strongly suspect their fandom but aren’t quite sure what to do about it, so they look over at Group 1…or RSS every popular Christian blog…thinking: Well, someone’s* got to know what they’re doing.

(If you’ve read Not A Fan, be honest: how many things could you check off on the list on p20? [7] I had to laugh at ‘Did you get a purpose driven life in 40 days or less?’ because boy did I try.)

He uses Nicodemus from John 3 as an example. Nic was a religious leader who believed in Jesus, but actually following him would cost Nicodemus everything, so he tried to ‘follow’ Jesus on the downlow. He believed but he didn’t really want to follow, because following Jesus meant commitment and commitment meant sacrifice. And belief alone isn’t enough – it has to be coupled with commitment:

“[T]he two [belief and following] are firmly connected. They are the heart and lungs of faith. One can’t live without the other. If you try and separate the message of follow from the message of believe, belief dies in the process. … Following is part of believing. To truly believe is to follow.”

Fans want “a gospel that cost[s] them nothing and offer[s] them everything”.

Jesus wants a “twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life”.

There is no middle ground.

*Jesus does. Go figure.



5 thoughts on “Not A Fan (1): Too much “belief”, not enough “follow”

  1. Despite the fact that this entry appears to be something of an homiletic book review I must thank you for conveying a wonderfully lucid insight into the present condition of the Christian faith. For many years I have struggled with certain styles of Christian devotion and life which I have all too frequently been disquieted by. It is that self-righteous religiosity which seems to infect every face of the faith. I am happy that your identification of this phenomena chimes so well with my own; where you refer to these people as ‘fans’ I have been calling them Jesus enthusiasts.

    Discipleship in Christ is truly revolutionary; it poses a fundamental challenge to our very sense of being. No more are we our own person, but made anew and fully incorporated into the death and resurrection of the living Christ. It demands that all of my thinking must be first orientated to Christ as I meet Him in the life of the Church, the Gospel, in my neighbour, community and the interiority of my prayer life. The worship of a superman Jesus without that life affirming commitment is no more infused with Grace than idolatry. Again, thank you.

  2. I read this book and my small group is now doing the study! It has a good message that is well connected with Biblical example and reference. I picked it up because the title struck me funny and was intrigued by the summary. I am fairly wary of “Christian books” where they can be more of an opinion and not always as biblically sound as you would hope, however this one was quite refreshing. So much that I encouraged my small group to read it and do the study. So far, it has challenged all of us to re-evaluate our relationship with Christ and make some valid and tangible changes in our Christian walk.

  3. Pingback: Looking back at 2012 | your mess, His Message

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