Followers not Fans
SHEILA WALSH — Thousands and thousands of men, women and children being forced to abandon their homes and countries, many losing their lives, praying that they will find welcoming arms somewhere on this earth.
The body of a little boy washed up on the shore, his brother and mother taken by the sea as well — all because the father wanted a life without bullets and brutality for those he loved — and now he stands over three caskets, a broken man.
Young black men who’ve barely begun to live, gunned down on our streets.
Faithful men and women gathered around the Word of God abruptly and viciously murdered by one they welcomed into their circle.
Police officers being stalked and executed by those they pledged to defend.
We live in brutal days. It’s hard to watch the news and not double over in pain or prayer or both. It’s not going to get any easier. As the Church, how do we respond?
I stood in line behind two young women in a coffee shop last Sunday. One put her Bible down on the counter, reached into her purse for her wallet and continued their conversation.
“I just don’t watch the news anymore. It’s too depressing,” she said.
“I know,” the other agreed. “I just watch re-runs of The Office.”
I sat in my car for a while thinking about those young women who expressed a sentiment that many share. Am I judging them? No, for I’ve been them.
My question is simply this: why do you think that you and I are here at this moment in human history? It’s no accident that we now have access to the plight of millions through a multitude of social networking platforms. Some of these issues have existed since the beginning of the human story, but now we know about them.
I believe that when God placed our feet on this earth at this time, He did it knowing that the world would be slowly bleeding to death. Some are crying out for mercy, some for vengeance, but the cries are getting louder.
It seems, however, that many of us in the church have become conveniently deaf. What has gone so terribly wrong that we choose to turn up the volume of our routine lives to drown out those cries?
Perhaps many of us in the Body of Christ have lost our purpose and passion, or never really found it in the first place, because we are only fans of Jesus — not followers. We love the idea of being loved but that’s about as far as it gets. Perhaps you were encouraged to give your heart to Jesus and everything would get better. Not only is that a disappointing way to live, more importantly, it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before Christ left this earth his instructions to his closest friends were crystal clear:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)
What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? What does it mean to take up your cross every day and follow Him?
It means that it’s not enough to simply embrace Christ as Savior and wait for him to get us out of this mess. It means that He is Lord over everything, our finances, our time, our passions, our families, our homes and our future.
The minute you truly surrender everything to follow Christ you enter a battle, not a beauty pageant. We are called to live for more than what makes us comfortable.
So how do we know how to live the kind of life Christ calls us to?
We study the Word of God and follow His commands.
We’re called to be His followers — not His fans.
There’s a lot of angry rhetoric in social media these days and my plea is that rather than simply trotting out the “party line” (whatever party you are affiliated with) you know the Word of God and can give an account of the faith that is within you. Stand and speak out but make sure that you are standing on truth, the truth of God’s Word; and when your words are the strongest, make sure they are soaked in tears and prayer.
I honestly wish that I had asked those two young women for just fifteen minutes of their time that day because the truth is, they were made for more than re-runs of TV shows. Deep down they feel it. We all do. The vacuum left by much of our watered-down Christianity has left us with a longing for more, even if some simply fill it with whatever stuff is convenient.
A.W. Tozer wrote that, in all our efforts to win people to Christ, “instead of converting them to Christ, we have converted Christianity to them.” So my prayer right now is this: I pray that those of us who claim the magnificent name of Christ will dive deep into His Word and become radical disciples of the most radical Love this world will ever know.
Will that change everything? Let’s see.