Luke 9:23

an enthusiastic admirer
addict, admirer, amateur, buff, devotee, follower, groupie, lover, rooter, supporter
a person who believes

(Same as Fan) addict, admirer, buff, devotee, supporter
(Different than Fan) advocate, apostle, backer, believer, cohort, companion, convert, disciple, helper, imitator, participant, promoter, protégé, pupil, representative, servant, sidekick, worshiper

A follower is more than a fan.

Fan Follower
Shows up when it’s convenient. Seeks every opportunity.
Are excited at the game, and maybe for a while after the game. Builds excitement and maintains that excitement it before, during and after.
May switch sides after a few seasons. Switching sides isn’t an option to a follower.

Some of you have season tickets that you got a while back but you come to the game because you don’t want to waste your money, not because you’re seeking or looking to get anything out of it.

Many of you welcome this kind of talk because you are ready to move to a different level of commitment. You’re ready to move past the casual and past the convenient into something more devoted, something more committed. So you’re ready for this talk.

Some of you are not, because you kind of like the set-up you have with Jesus. I mean, He is a nice guy and you like church—it gives you something to do on the weekend—and it’s awfully nice that we can chit-chat and gossip with friends while we’re here. You kind of like what you have going, and this idea of being more committed, this idea of taking it to a different level? You get a little anxious. Maybe you even go into the “fight or flight” response. But what we need to do is define our relationship. Where do you stand with Jesus Christ?

Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?

These pews aren’t meant to be filled with fans. And Jesus never cared about having fans.

See, I think we have a tendency to come together once a week and be fans of Jesus. We sit down in our seats and we open up our programs. We applaud at certain times and we leave somehow thinking that, as the fans, it was all done for us. We get in the car and we evaluate the sermon, and we kind of give the service and song selection a thumbs up or thumbs down. And we come back and do it again next week. And I get the fact that some of you are really big fans. I mean, you’re really into all of this. You know all the songs and you don’t need the page number for the Bible. You know where to turn. You’re pretty fast, and you kind of look around to see how much faster you are than everyone else, keeping your Sword Drill abilities in shape. You’re big fans of Jesus. And being fans feel pretty good. We can feel pretty good about ourselves because we’re these great admirers of Christ, but He never cared about having fans.

So if we’ll be honest with ourselves, if we’ll really search our hearts and begin to define our relationship with Jesus, there are three questions for you to answer. The first is this:

Why Are You Here?

If you read through the Gospels, Jesus, at different points in His ministry, would draw a line in the sand and He would separate the fans from the followers. In John chapter 6, Jesus is at the height of His ministry and we read that large crowds were following Jesus. He was very popular. He was working miracles. He was providing food from just five loaves of bread and a few fish, and a lot of people were in the crowd following Jesus.

John 6:41-59
Jesus defines what/how to be a follower.

The main reason the crowds were showing up was because of the spectacle. They didn’t care as much about the teaching, about the life-changing lesson. They were there for the show. So, why are you here? What is your because? Is it because you like the free food? Is it because you like chit-chat? Is that why you’re here? I mean, that’s great for a while, but at some point let’s define the relationship. Why are you here? In that passage, Jesus challenges the fans to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, and in verse 66 here is what we read:

John 6:66
“From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

666 – Mark of the beast – God’s telling us something here.

Jesus says, “Let’s define what we’ve got here,” and what He offered isn’t what they wanted.

If you’re coming in more for the miracles, more for the show, more for what Jesus can do for you. You need to check up. He wants there to be a point where you define the relationship. Why are you here? What is your because why? For Jesus, his because is that He wants to have a deep relationship with you.

Are You All In?

Being a follower of Jesus requires complete commitment. A follower of Jesus will do whatever it takes to follow Jesus. They’re absolutely loyal, completely committed.

On the whole, we don’t do too well with absolute commitment, do we? I think that we prefer selective commitment. Simply put, we customize Christianity. Oftentimes, we look at our relationship with Jesus and say, “I’m going to follow Jesus, but I’m going to kind of pick and choose the areas in which I will follow Him.” So you say, “Well, I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t ask me to forgive the person that hurt me. I’m not going to let go of that resentment. I’m not going to let go of that bitterness. I deserve that.” And, “I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t talk to me about my money. I work hard for that money.” “I’ll follow Jesus but don’t tell me to abstain from these sexual desires. I can’t help the fact that I have these desires. Don’t ask me to abstain. I’m a follower of Jesus, but that won’t stop me from getting what I want.” So it’s this customized Christianity that says, “Well, I follow Jesus, but only in the areas that are comfortable, only in the areas that I agree with. I’m a Christian but I’m not all in.” Well, then you’re not a Christian. You’re just a fan. There is not an option of selective commitment. It’s not a possibility. There is no bargaining, no bartering, and no finagling.

When you decide to become a follower of Christ, you’ve got to go all in. And fans, they don’t like the idea of going all in. They’re not wild about having to make sacrifices, or about having to deny themselves of something they desire or crave. But if you’ve answered why you’re here, then it will be pretty easy to figure out if you’re all in. If you aren’t here for the right reasons, chances are you won’t be willing to go all in.

Have You Made It Your Own?

Many of us started going to church because of our parents. Mom made you. Dad said you had to. There wasn’t an option. Or maybe you started coming because of a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a spouse. You came because they like it when you come. You came because it appeases them. For those of us who grew up in the church, or who attend church in order to appease a significant other or relative, it can be really easy to become a fan.

We keep coming to appease someone else, and pretty soon we get into the flow of things. We know most of the songs, and we even recognize the stories or the teachings, and we’re kind of fans of Jesus. But that can be the most dangerous situation to be in. If your faith isn’t your own, if you aren’t pursuing a relationship with Jesus, and you keep coming week after week and begin to create a “faith” that was someone else’s in the first place, you’re just numbing yourself to the real thing. You’ll become numb to real faith, comfortable with a few songs and a few favorite verses, none of which requires any sacrifice or personal change.

You have to make your faith your own. He’s not looking for a relationship between you, your wife, and Him. He’s looking for a relationship with you. That may be one of the reasons Jesus said these words in

Luke 14:26
“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.”

This is not about your spouse. This is about you and Jesus.

So begin to search your heart and ask, “are you a follower of Jesus, or are you just a fan?