Fan or Follower?

Fan or Follower?

Thursday, 21 July 2016  | Narelle - MECS Principal
I’m an enthusiastic fan of my children’s sport. Most Saturdays you will find me cheering on the Ignite Scorpions or Surrey Park Panthers. I don’t mind a little inconvenience: a wet, cold day at a suburban footy oval is not enough to turn me off; I take my turn to score and provide the lollies at netball; I pay my membership fees and buy my tickets for the meat tray raffle each week. I’m a pretty committed fan, costing me time and money each week! However, I’m not interested in getting dirty, or injured, or having to put in extra time for training or other responsibilities. I’m happy just being a fan – turning up once a week and doing my little bit. I’m too busy for anything more, I have other priorities…

Kyle I in his book, ‘Not a Fan’ suggests that the church is full of ‘Jesus fans’, but not enough followers! Too many people who are happy to be fans as long as it doesn’t cost them too much or take away from other things that are important to them. Too few people are willing to be followers. He writes, “A concern I have with our churches today is that when we gather together, I think there is the possibility that instead of a community of followers we are nothing more than a stadium full of fans. Where we may wear a cross, but we don’t bear the cross. You can come to church, know all the songs, open your Bible and take notes, walk out to your car with a Jesus fish on the bumper and say grace before lunch, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a follower.”

The Bible provides an interesting cameo of a man who moved from being a fan to a follower. In fact, at the beginning he was hardly even a fan! We first meet Nicodemus in John 3. He is one of the seventy-two men who serve on the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Ruling Council. He would have been a respected, wealthy and revered man, well known in his community. He would have known and heard about Jesus and what he was doing. And yet in verse 2, we find him sneaking off under the cover of darkness to meet Jesus. I get the impression from the limited narrative that he was probably intrigued by Jesus, perhaps begrudgingly admired him. But he knew that his reputation was at risk if he sought him out in daylight. He didn’t want this Jesus character to inconvenience him too much or disrupt his good life. And yet... there was something that drew him in as a reluctant fan!

In Chapter 7, we find Nicodemus has moved closer to be being a follower. He speaks out aligning himself with the truth about who Jesus really is, protesting against the course of action his fellow religious leaders were taking against Christ. This probably cost him his job and reputation, and perhaps even his family and friends. Finally, in Chapter 19, we find that Nicodemus is one of the friends that takes care of Jesus’ body after his crucifixion; wrapping it and anointing it with herbs and spices that he has provided.

Wow! What a transformation from reluctant fan to complete follower. The reality for most Christians is that it is easy for us to move backwards and forwards from being a fan to follower. Or to think that knowing about Jesus is the same as knowing Jesus.

Kyle Idleman speaks into this issue by sharing this insight: “I grew up thinking it was my knowledge and my good behavior that made me a follower. I loved Jesus and I knew a lot about Jesus – but I didn’t know Jesus. I wasn’t talking to him about my day – I wasn’t listening for him to speak into my life. See, a lot of us don’t mind Jesus once a week on Sunday. We don’t mind making some minor change in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down – we want him to do a little touch up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation – we come thinking tune-up but Jesus is thinking overhaul – we think just a little makeup is what we need and Jesus is thinking makeover. We think a little decorating is required, and Jesus wants a complete remodel.”

Our school mission statement is about providing learning experiences that challenge each student to actively live for God in His world. Can you do this only being a fan, or do you need to be a follower to do this really well? As a Christian school, are we satisfied when our students are simply fans or do we hope and pray for more? How would you describe yourself – a fan or follower?

These are good questions to be reflecting on in a world that seems to encourage shallow and temporary attachments, rather than deep and committed relationships. Let us be a community of followers, instead of a stadium of fans! 

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