Fan vs Follower

I wanted to share with you all this week a topic of conversation that we had in our last class session.  You see I go to these classes and sometimes they are awesome and sometimes they are not.  Currently I’m in a great class and we have some great conversations and recently the topic of being a disciple came up in conversation.  So you would think that if we are going to talk about being a disciple that I would have you turn to a story about the disciples.  However, I want to reach back into the Old Testament for this one.  So if you would, please turn to Isaiah 62:1-5.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,

until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.

The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;

and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;

but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;

for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.

For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,

and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

There is a difference between a follower of Christ and a Disciple of Christ.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry there were hundreds of people that followed Jesus wherever he went.  More than once, he had to find a way to get away from the crowd so that he could continue to do his work.  However, he was rarely without his twelve disciples.  A disciple isn’t just someone that follows a person.  A disciple is someone that learns from a teacher and attempts to emulate that teacher in their own life. 

A couple years ago, I began working through a book called “Not a Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  In this book, he talks about the difference in being a fan of Jesus, and being a follower of Him.  The difference that it talks about is that a fan is someone that cheers and hoots when things are good.  They know all about a subject and they can spout off info at any point.  They are only in the fandom because of the joy that they get out of it.  The relationship they have with the subject of their admiration is a surface level relationship.  There’s no real depth.

A follower is something completely different.  A follower has intimate information and knowledge of the subject.  Their relationship goes beyond knowledge to a true devotion and love of the subject.  They are in this for the other, not themselves.

As I went through this book, I can’t help but think about my coaching job in past football seasons.  You see, we ran a very run-based style of offense.  It wasn’t flashy and it wasn’t always pretty, but we stuck to it and we won a fair amount of games over the years.  However, every single season I would get the same question from someone in the community.  One year in particular I actually got the inevitable from a local reporter in a conversation I was having with him following a summer tournament we were in at Bluffton.  He wanted to know if this was the year that we would start throwing the ball more.  I was talking to him and he told me that, in his opinion, with a quarterback like Bryce (our star QB at the time) that we should be throwing the ball 20-30 times a game.  I told him that if we threw the ball 20 times in a game we were in deep, deep trouble that game.  We ended up only throwing it 47 times all season!

I hear this from fans year after year and the ultimate truth is that our offense is not a pass based offense.  We don’t practice it that much and we rarely have the talent to have one person capable to throw the ball and another capable of catching it.  Bryce was not a 3-year starter at QB for us because of his arm.  That isn’t what we look for in our quarterback.  But that is what the fans start screaming.  When we are up by 20 points, everyone’s cheering how we do things.  As soon as things got rough I start hearing things shouted from the crowd like, “Try a pass!” “Why aren’t we throwing it?” and “Hey, throw the ball!”  These gems of wisdom were thrown down upon us during stressful game situations.    

People would just show up to games and think they have the knowledge to be successful without any real intimate relationship with the players on the field.  That’s the distinction I want to talk to you about today. 

Are you the kind of person that can quote the bible, have a Jesus fish on your truck, and show up here every week regardless of the weather?  All that is well and good, but does it really create a relationship with Christ? 

When I read over this passage I can’t help but think that this author is a real follower of God.  I love the zeal and pleasure this verse starts with.  “For Zion’s sake I cannot keep quiet and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest!”  Do you ever feel like that; that you love your God so much that you literally cannot keep your mouth shut? 

There are times that I am so excited about this church and the things that God is doing in my life that I cannot stop talking about it.  I know that Satan has noticed this place and knows that this church is on the verge of something great and he wants it to stop.  How exciting is that for you?  It gets me pumped up!  I believe that we have ticked off Satan.  That’s kind of cool.

I just want to stand up and shout it out that Bethel is a place that Satan is afraid of.  This is a place that God has blessed. 

But is that the life that we are truly living?  Are we living a life as followers of Christ or are we just going through the motions that a fan does?  Are you just shouting from the stands nonsensical suggestions?

I would ask that you examine your own life and your own relationship with Christ.  What is your relationship with Christ right now?  I know how many of you feel about that question and what the quick answer will be in your head.  You think that your relationship is good and that you are definitely a follower of Christ.  Then I want to know why you’re not standing up and shouting at the top of your lungs with the zeal and love that is written here in Isiah.  God’s righteousness will shine for the whole world to see! 

We need to do live a life of zeal in remembrance of how this passage in Isiah ends.  It ends with the reminder that God rejoices over us as much as we rejoice over Him.  It says that the Lord delights over us and that He shall rejoice over our victories as well.  We should be celebrating Him in what we do because He is celebrating us!

Listen, this isn’t intended to be a message that makes you question your faith.  I want this to be a message that convicts you to start sharing and shouting the faith that you have to everyone you encounter.  We have something special happening here and it isn’t because we’ve just sat back and waited for it.  You have all gone through trials.  Throughout your life you have stared Satan and his minions down as they tried to topple your faith.  Now that you stand among the victors for Christ as a true follower, let the world know that God is in your life, that you have an intimate relationship with Him and that He is ever present in your life.  Remember that when you faced the darkest times of your faith journey that, when you came out on top, God was there and celebrating your accomplishments just as He wants us to do for Him.  God is moving in the world and He is using this church to do it.  Stand among the front lines with each other and declare your love and devotion.  Stare down the trials of this world with the boldness that only comes from one that knows how it ends because you have walked that path before and have celebrated victory with Him.