(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?  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.