I'm known to be a fan of the San Antonio Spurs. Not that I get to go to many of their games, but I rarely miss the TV coverage of every game. From all I can tell, the Spurs have a top-notch program with quality people in their players, coaches, and administrative staff. For a few minutes, remember I said in the first sentence, "I am a fan."
This week I stumbled into a book by Kyle Idleman called, "not a fan." (Lower case title is intentional.) I haven't finished reading the book, however, in the first few chapters I am getting the main idea. The author wants his readers to learn, there is a difference between a fan and a follower. Early into the book there are some questions asked, which may determine the depth of a person's relationship with Jesus. There are also some groups in which we might place ourselves, taking a measurement of our relationship with the Lord.
I'm pulling one section from the book which strikes with a revealing message for Christians as they examine themselves by asking, "Am I a fan or a follower of Jesus?" Before you ponder that too deeply, I have pre-pondered for you and can tell you, without a doubt, there is a huge difference between someone who is a fan of Jesus and someone who is a follower.
Think for a moment about the times when watching an NFL game and sometimes an NBA game and someone is sitting in a place, sure to be seen by the TV cameras, while holding up a sign which says "John 3:16." That's ok with me. I like seeing scriptural references like this at sporting events. The sign could possibly be the only opportunity for some to learn the message, "For God so loved the world that he gave is only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." We know from that one verse, God loves us, Jesus died for us, and eternal life is ours through him.
Have you ever seen a sporting event where someone held up a sign which said "Luke 9:23?" That one might not be as easily quoted, but it says, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." It's an important verse but don't expect to see anyone painting those words on a sign and showing it off during sporting events. Here's the difference in the verses:
John 3:16 emphasizes believing. Luke 9:23 emphasizes following. We must learn we cannot believe Jesus without following him, and we cannot follow Jesus without believing him. Our problem with believing without following is that it makes us a fan, and that is where a lot of people stop. They want to believe in a Savior, a God who loves them, and who brings eternal life, but actually following him by self denial and taking up our cross, requires more than some are willing to give.
So now let me repeat from the first sentence above, I am a fan of the Spurs. Then let me add, I am a follower of Jesus. So where do you and I fit in? From what I can tell, we are the one to determine that. Believing might make us a fan, but God is calling each one of us to be a follower.