Many of the disciples were followers of Jesus and the Word confirms that there were at one time or another about seventy of them. Were they fans or followers or true disciples?
Those who fall into one category or the other out of those three show three different levels of commitment. The fans of Jesus and his teachings were the ones who were with Him daily and tried to understand His teachings. The followers were the crowds which went with Him hoping for a miracle or some food or both!
His true disciples were the ones who went out and preached the Word and the good News of redemption through belief in Jesus and the Father Who sent Him. In the book of Jeremiah, there are a few verses which illustrate what following means, it is in chapter 6 and verse 16: “Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.” Even though it says that, at the time, the Israelites said to him that they would not walk in it.
There are many who find the right path but for one reason or another, they decide not to walk in that path. Some reasons that I have heard are “it is too hard”; “I don’t want to right now, I am having too much fun”; “Following Jesus requires too much time and effort”. If that were the real reason, no one would ever follow Him.
How can we follow Him and be a disciple of His instead of a fan or a follower for our own reasons? In today’s language being a follower could mean that you know about Jesus and everything that He did. You have been to church, you have listened to sermons and even read some scripture about Him, but do you follow Him?
Are you classified as a fan of Jesus? Fans know their teams and the stats well. They know about all the things that their favorite team does and each team member and their statistics. Some might be able to tell you how many children some of the team members have who are married. In reference to football fans, they can tell you everything that each player did in college and in their rookie season. But what happens when your favorite team starts to lose or has a losing season. If they have a losing season or two, their fans tend to trickle away and lose some enthusiasm for them.
What happens when life gets a little tough, do you fall away or do you cling to Jesus? What do you do if the road that your life with Christ is following gets a bit bumpy or hard like a mountain trail? Do you feel the need to get off? Our trail that we are following is not easy because Jesus said that He did not come to make things easy but that He would ease your burden by taking the weight of sin off of your shoulders. He did not say that you wouldn’t sin but that you would not be tempted beyond what you are able to bear.
How many fans get to play in the Super Bowl? (Answer: none) What about true followers, do they get to play in games like that? No, because they are not players or professional football/baseball players, they religiously follow the game and its players but they can’t play.
What about Christians? Do we get to play? Let’s look at what it takes to be in the game as a true follower of Jesus: 1. I have given my heart to Jesus; 2. I read my Bible daily and study it, praying over the passages so that I can understand; 3. I pray about little things in my life as well as BIG things so that God knows my heart in these matters; 4. I ask God to help me to understand and know what He wants me to do with my life after He has changed it and decide to live my life for Him from that point on.
The problem is that there are many people who are in church and have been in church for many years and yet are still “fans” and not followers. Even though they do many of the things which followers do, their hearts are still “far from me” as Jesus said. How can we get back from that far country to the place where we belong?
The only way to get back from that far country is to humble ourselves and admit that we need to get back in the first place! Once we do that, we can become followers of Jesus and our new life will keep us in that place close to Him. Then our lives will be even more useful and productive, not only for God’s kingdom but for our own walk with Him daily as well.
In many ways, our lives are mirror images of the world in which we live. Some of us live in the world and have very little to do with church and its doctrine which is preached there. Even if we come to church, there are things which are said there that we don’t agree with so we tune them out entirely.
When we look forward toward the years that we each have left or think that we have, what do we see? Do we see a life full of promise like we did when we were young? Or do we see the end of our lives approaching and decide to wind down like a toy and “take it easy for a while”?
We were not made to “wind down”; our lives are to be useful to Him regardless of our age or our point in life. He decides when our time comes to “wind down” from this life, but that still doesn’t mean that our life will end. You have an appointment with eternity and where that appointment takes you is your choice.