Are You Jesus’ Number 1 Fan?
Luke 9:18-26September 11, 2011
Did you see the photograph on the front page of the Friday edition of the Westerly Sun? It pictured three kids in Bradford who started up a lemonade stand to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. It made me think of all the kids in towns across America who have set up stands of their own.
Anybody here ever do that? Many of us have given it a try but the novelty soon wears off. Yet… yet a few of those innovative kids must have been a little more serious than the rest of us. Angelo Delucia took his father’s recipe and turned it into a million dollar operation. As a young man he started pushing his carts here in Rhode Island. Today you can find it in 36 states and it is even sold internationally.
You see for many of us, a lemonade stand is fun but Angelo made it his life.
Some of you are probably thinking, “Maybe I should have gone into the lemonade stand business.” But you didn’t. You realized it is a lot easier to pick up a Del’s than it is to try to make them and sell them. You realized it’s a lot easier to be a BIG Fan of Del’s Lemonade than to spend your life in the business.
We do that with a lot of things. We become fans. We do it with products, with sports teams, with people. We like them a lot and make them a part of our life.
I’ll never forget the line from the movie, Misery. Kathy Bates and James Caan starred in the 1990 film adaption of Stephen King’s novel by the same name. In the movie, Caan is a famous novelist. He is on his way home from his mountain retreat in Colorado when his car goes off the road. He is rescued by Kathy Bates.
As Caan comes to, he looks up to see Bates’ face and she explains what happened to him and then says, “I am your number one fan!” The phrase takes on new meaning as the movie unfolds. We find out she is completely obsessed with him and goes to extreme lengths to have him all to herself.
Now Bates is not what we have in mind when we think about our faith. She was kooky and over the top. But we often use that analogy of being a fan to show how much we like something.
Over the next few weeks we are going to talk about that. We are going to define our relationship with Christ. The question we will be asking is “Are we a fan or a follower?” and we will explore the difference.
Let me just say this: It is good to be a fan but it is better to be a follower. All of us are somewhere along a path that begins with an awareness of Jesus and ends up with us being a completely committed follower. It may take a lifetime to make that journey. There is no shame with being somewhere on the map, as long as you are on the way.
My hope is that as we look at discipleship in the coming weeks, all of us will decide to step up and move to the next level. You see that is what Jesus calls us to in the scriptures.
Our text today lays out the challenge. Do we love Jesus as much as we love camping, or going to the beach or playing golf or reading a good novel. Do we love Jesus more than any of these things? Could we describe ourselves as Jesus’ number one fan or are we more than that?
The passage begins with a question. “Who do people say I am?” After throwing out a few answers, Jesus then turns to them and asks his disciples who they think he is. When they proclaim him as Lord and messiah, he calls them to follow him. He puts out a challenge.
That is the essence of the call. If we really believe Jesus is the son of God, then you and I have a decision to make. Will we follow him or are we just going to be a fan of his.
I have a friend who is Keith Urban’s number one fan. She is wacky about it. She goes on tour with him, not officially, but she travels to his concerts, books hotels, spends hundreds of dollars to see him. She has shirts, hats, posters and knows everything there is to know about him. She is a trivia machine. She’s even had a back stage pass and gotten to speak with him. She’s got to be his number one fan.
Yet, and here is the difference between a fan and a follower, she knows all about Keith Urban but she doesn’t really know him.
Jesus has a lot of fans too. They come to church, they read the Bible. They know a lot about him. But they don’t know him because they don’t spend time with him.
When Jesus invites us to follow him, to pick up our cross, he is inviting us to walk with him in prayer and spirit every day. When Jesus invites us to follow him, he invites us to walk the walk and to begin to live a life that reflects his teaching.
He is not just inviting us to wear his Jersey or to paint our faces to show what big fans we are, he is inviting us into a deeper commitment that will affect our whole life inside and out.
Right now a lot of us have a “convenient relationship” with Christ. There is nothing wrong with that. We are on the road. We like Jesus and church is good – We have friends here and we enjoy coming on Sunday. We like the pot lucks and every once in a while, something that is said in a sermon, hits home. But Jesus wants us to take it to the next step.
So I’ve got three questions for you this morning. The first is quite simple. Why Are You Here?
In John 6 we find Jesus at the height of his popularity. He was working the miracles. He had just provided food from just five loaves of bread and a few fish for over 5,000 people. Yet in verse 2 it says they were coming “because of the miracles.”
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. Knowing that, Jesus challenges the fans to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him, and in verse 66 here is what we read: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
You see Jesus wants you and me to be more than fans. It is not about putting on a good show on Sunday morning.
Robert Schuler used to bring in big celebrities to give their testimonies. He brought in gifted musicians. When I went out there I was blown away by the beasuty of the building. The windwos, the organ. Just being there was special. I loved that but you see it isn’t about the show. It has to be about Jesus.
He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to call us friend. Are you ready for that? Are you willing to put in the time that is needed to really get to know him? Or is the show enough? It may be for right now. But Jesus wants you and me to experience much more. He calls us to be followers.
The second question is this: How much are you willing to invest?
I’m not talking about money here (That’s next month during stewardship season! Wink, Wink)
Every study I read says that most of us don’t like commitment today. People are putting off marriage. People are volunteering less. They don’t join clubs. They don’t commit.
That goes right in the face of what Jesus asks us to do. E asks for commitment and we want to customize our Christianity.
We often 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.” We 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.”
Or, “I’ll follow Jesus, but don’t talk to me about my money. I work hard for that money.”
Maybe you’ve heard this: “I’ll follow Jesus but don’t tell me to stop doing this or that. That part of my life is mine. 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 might as well say “no” to Jesus. As you become more and more committed to Jesus, as you learn his desire for your life and for this relationship, you will see that his way is the best way.
When you decide to become a follower of Christ, you’ve got to go all in. If you can’t do it now, then begin by giving up one more area of your life to him this year. Start there and then plan on letting him have a little more down the road. When you do, you will begin to experience the best in blessings.
The last question is this: Have You Made Your Faith, Your Own?
Many of us started going to church because of a parent. 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. It’s like riding the car with someone who listens to a type of music you’re impartial to. They drive you to school or work everyday, and every morning it’s country. I don’t really care that much about Country Western. I don’t hate them, I don’t really like them, but it’s fine to listen to. But eventually, a few songs grow on you a little bit. You can’t help but hum along to “Brad Paisley or Taylor Swift” So you might say you became a fan of Country.
That can happen to us in church. 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 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 losing out on a wonderful relationship with Christ. It can’t go deeper until you make it your own.
Jesus isn’t looking for a relationship between you, your mom, and Him. He’s looking for a relationship with you.
So are you Jesus number one fan? If so, that’s a good place to start. But here’s the good news. Jesus is your number one fan and it is wonderful when the feeling is mutual.
So be blessed. amen