by Samuel Brooks
Recently (Christmas Eve actually), one of the gifts that my brother and his fiance gave me was a book called Not A Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman. Those that know me know that I’m not the fastest reader as I take my time to get through a book. A good book might take me a year to get through; however, this book took me only 4 days to read the 15 chapters! I had a lot of free time on my hands and the book caught my attention early on.The message behind this book is meant to differentiate a fan of Christ from a true follower, while using personal examples, Scripture and testimonies to support the information being provided with the goal that the reader will become more of a follower of Christ. One passage of Scripture that’s used in the book to compare our relationship with Christ to everything else is Luke 14:25-26:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
In the book, some questions are raised to help you figure out where you’re at and to see what may need to change so you can become more of a follower (I suggest writing your answers down so you can visualize them):
1) For what do you sacrifice your money? What you spend your time and money on often reveals the true desire of your heart and shows who or what you are truly following.
2) When you’re hurt, where do you go for comfort? Who or what is competing with our devotion to Jesus – is it a parent or spouse? The refrigerator? Work?
3) What disappoints or frustrates you the most? Losing a job or a game?
4) What is it that really gets you excited? Similar to what disappoints you, things that excite us can be in competition with Christ – sports, decorating, music, work, or appearance?
There are MANY more examples in the book that’d take too much time to list and explain here. So I encourage you to go read it!
Based on my experience, I’ve seen far more people call themselves “Christians” yet not live that lifestyle. I also say this because of how I lived my life for 13-13 1/2 years. They give themselves the title of being a Christian for the benefits and to fit in but aren’t willing (or don’t know) what it truly means to follow Christ and make sacrifices. Therefore, they’re more fans than they are followers! To further summarize, fans know about Jesus but they don’t know Him. If you’ve read my testimony, you’d know that I grew up attending church and believed in God but didn’t care to have a relationship with Him…and leave the sinful lifestyle that I was living for so many years. I had used the title of ‘Christian’ as a mask and to make myself appear more innocent. All I was doing was acting because I was living a double life! I had also kept putting off on becoming a Christian because I wanted to wait until “I was done with school”, “had a better job”, “became more successful”, and so on. That’s one brief example of what a fan is!
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mark 7:6)
A few weeks ago, after a lot of thinking and some praying, I decided to close 517 Entertainment after almost 7 years at the end of December. One of the many reasons being that I never had God at the foundation! When I decided to become a born-again Christian and got baptized in Jesus’ Name, the new policies that I implemented wasn’t being enforced consistently (I’m guilty of this) and the business became more of a sin. How was it a sin? Besides not putting God at the foundation originally, it was connected to the old life that I used to live and we controlled a good percentage of the music distribution in Michigan for independent musicians; very little went through without us knowing or our say. I buried myself with work and didn’t want to give up control. It was greedy, prideful, selfish and idolatrous. I began to feel convicted by God about it during the past summer but didn’t feel it strongly until the past month. Closing the business and giving up all of that control was one of the hardest decisions for me to make! But, in doing so, I started to feel more freedom and weight being lifted off of me. Another example is in November I began to give a portion of my income for tithes which I hadn’t done since I was about 9 or 10 years old. Similar to not wanting to give up control, I wanted to hold onto my money for me (among other reasons). But after taking that next step, I’m starting to feel so much better about giving to God. These are two examples of what it means to be a follower because it’s all about sacrifice! Along with the passage below, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 NLT is another good one that explains what I was going through.
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7-8 NLT)
To conclude, the difference between a fan and a follower is that a fan cares about the benefits of being a Christian; whereas, a follower is willing to stand boldly, carry their cross and deny themselves daily for Christ (Luke 9:23). Followers are willing to make sacrifices while fans aren’t. Christ sacrificed everything for you, so what are YOU willing to sacrifice for Him (with His help)? Is it an addiction (i.e. gambling, pornography, alcohol, drugs (including marijuana), work, smoking)? A relationship(s)? Infidelity? It’s time to decide if you’re a fan or a follower (this includes me) everyday! You can’t be half in and half out…it’s all in or nothing! #ImNotAFan #Crazy4Christ #CrazyChristian #WhyImApostolic