Not A Fan
A few years ago a friend of mine Sam Middlebrook sent a couple of us guys this game on the internet. It was a quirky little game of miniature golf, and he asked us to play the game and if we liked it, to pass it along to other friends of ours. I played the game once and went on to something else. A few days later someone posted their score, which it was lower than mine, and my competitive instincts kicked in so I went back to play the game determined to get the low score.
I told some friends of mine about the game and what my score was and pretty soon they were also playing. We would brag about our low scores and talk about the holes that were easy and which ones were giving us a hard time. We shared strategy on where to hit the ball to get a hole in one, and told other folks about the game who also played all trying to get the low score.
After a month Sam came back to the original group and asked us what we thought about it. We were bragging about our low scores and the number of holes in one in a game. Someone mentioned how many folks they shared the game with and others mentioned how many folks they had shared the game with as well, and I was struck by how far this game spread in such a little time.
If you know Sam, what he did next was not that surprising, but that day I was taken a bit off guard. Sam asked us why were we so quick to spend time with a game and share that game with others, but we refuse to spend time and share a Savior we are called to love?
Honestly, I didn’t like his question, My default response was to make an excuse: The game was fun, there was no threat in sharing the game, no one would get mad and try to argue with me about a game. But what I realized about myself that day was while I wanted to claim that Jesus was my King the truth is I was living like a fan.
We are called to be followers of Christ, and very often we spend our time making excuses for why we are not living up to that calling. We have all made the same excuses: I’m too busy, I don’t know enough, I wouldn’t know where to start, I’m not looking for a fight, that’s why we have a preacher. At the end of the day your excuses reveal the truth about your relationship with Christ as well. If you have more excuses than you have examples of living out your love for Christ then you are living like you are embarrassed to be the very thing you were created to be and that is a follower.
Two weeks ago we looked at Luke 9:23 where Jesus says that if we want to follow Him we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. I want us to go back to Luke 9, but this morning I want us to turn our focus from the abstract of taking up our cross and following Jesus into the concrete of what that really looks like.
Here at the end of chapter 9 we find three examples of people who are potential followers, but would rather be fans or enthusiastic admirers. They like the idea of following Jesus, but when the rubber meets the road they have more excuses than they have desire. This morning we are going to camp out in these 6 verses because I believe in this short text we will see what keeps them from following is really what keeps most of us from following.
So if you have your Bible's turn back to the text that was read for us this morning and let’s see if any of this sounds familiar.
Fan One: Comfort Seekers
We read about the first fan in verse 57: As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, I will follow you wherever you go. I like the fact that this man said I will follow you wherever. He’s at least talking a good game, he says to Jesus I will follow you wherever without reservation.
When you first read Jesus’ response you might wonder if He actually heard what the guy said: Jesus replied, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. I mean that’s was a pretty weird way to answer this man’s request. It would be like me asking one of our young people during the children moment, What do you want to be when you grow up and they tell me, 42.
But Jesus’ response is a real answer; it gives us some clarity not only to the request but to the one who is asking. I mean look at what Jesus is talking about; If you follow Me you will lose possession of everything including the things that comfort you the most. Jesus’s response draws attention to the fact that this man loved comfort more than following Him.
We get that, we are by nature comfort seekers. I’ll be the first admit I like being comfortable. This morning I observed the passover when it came to the tie and coat because I like comfortable clothes, I like a comfortable temperature, I like comfortable situations, I like comfortable theology that is familiar, and I like to be comfortable in my relationship with God. I want my worship to be comfortable, there are things I like and things I don’t like, especially in worship. There are traditions that I hold to, and have even told folks they were unscriptural because they wanted to do something that made me uncomfortable.
But in our text we see that Jesus confronts this man’s desire to be comfortable. Remember there is nothing comfortable about taking up your cross and following Jesus. The call of Jesus to take up our cross and follow Him conflicts with our desire to be comfortable.
We need to be very careful here, because it’s so easy to get into a routine or a groove and trade our God who is the Great Comforter for the god of what makes me comfortable. We make comfort our god, it’s what we live for, work for, and sacrifice for. But there’s nothing comfortable about the Christian life. Worship and our relationship with God is all about God and His table and His people and if there is no part of this body, no part of this worship that feels foreign to you, that causes discomfort with the sinful and selfish part of you then you have traded the King of King, the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of all things for the god of convenience and comfort.
A few years back NBC did a report on what they called the new vegetarians. In their interview they played a clip from Christy, a 28 year old woman, who spoke volumes about this new mindset. She said, I usually eat vegetarian; but I really like sausage. Which I totally understand by the way! She represents a growing number of people who refer to themselves as flexetarians. Most of the time they will refuse to eat meat, but once in a while they make an exception. Christy explained it this way, I really like vegetarian food, but I’m not 100 percent committed.
Flexetarian is a good way to describe how many people today view their commitments. Flexitarians are committed until it becomes inconvenient and uncomfortable. So when the special is Filet Mignon then our commitments can be adjusted. And that’s the way many Christians approach their commitment to Jesus and Bible.
I really like Jesus, but I don’t really like serving the poor. I’m a big fan of my church but my resources are spoken for. I love worship, but only when we sing my favorite songs and the sermon doesn’t get on my toes. I love Jesus but this area of my life, when I’m with these friends, when I am at this place, well then I’m not 100 percent committed. I really like Jesus, but don’t expect me to change.
When we wear the name of Christ and then try to pick and choose the teachings of Jesus that we’re going to follow we have become a Flexetarian or a fan. This man in verse 57 spoke words of commitment, but when Jesus painted him a picture of what that commitment looked like he faced his own faith crisis. We have buildings all across our country that are filled with people who have made a decision to believe in Jesus, but never really committed to Jesus.
We have to be really careful here because many of us grew up learning to be fan of Jesus instead of a follower of Jesus. We went to Sunday School and Wednesday night prayer meetings and were taught to have some Biblical morals, to do Christian type things and we were never really introduced to Christ. One of the most dangerous ways to be raised is with a little bit of Jesus. It’s kind of like the flu shot, you get a little bit of the flu in your system and it makes you immune to the real thing.
Fan Two: Maybe Later
In verse 59 we meet fan number 2. He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
One of the first words out the guy’s mouth is First. The first thing he does is put Jesus off. I want to follow, I really do, but not right now. Now isn’t a good time. I fully intend to become a follower, but before I do there are some other things that I want to do.
Maybe you hear this man’s excuse for putting Jesus off, he wants to go bury his father, and think Jesus is being a little too hard core. Let the guy go bury his dad. Well, most scholars seem to believe that this guy’s dad wasn’t even sick. This was a way for the man to say, when my parents die, then I will follow you. When I get the inheritance, when I know they won’t disapprove, then I will follow you.
We treat our relationship with Jesus like the diet we keep meaning to start, you know I’m going to start eating right, as soon as finish off these 20 buffalo wings. I’m going to start reading my Bible every evening as soon as Football season is over. Jesus I’ll be committed to you but first let me do what I want to do. Jesus I’ll start tomorrow, I promise that this is my last time, just wait until I’m out of college, or get married, or have kids, or get a less demanding job. Instead of getting out of bed we just keep hitting the snooze button, just 10 more minutes we tell ourselves.
Our problem is that as long as we wait for tomorrow, then tomorrow never comes. There is a great principle found in Luke 16:10 where Jesus said, If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities. If you’re crooked in small responsibilities, you’ll be no different in bigger things.” The truth is that as long as we make excuses to put off being faithful to Christ, then we will never be faithful. If you cannot be faithful with a little time, or a little treasure, or a little talent Jesus says that you will not be able to be faithful when you get more.
Our second fan’s excuse wasn’t enough for Jesus. I’m not sure what is holding you back. It may be something that seems very legitimate, but Jesus says the time is now. And I guarantee you that longer you put Him off the less like you are to ever follow.
Fan Three: Part Time
The third fan is in verse 61: Still another said, I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. Jesus replied, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
Jesus isn’t looking for half-hearted followers. Following Him part-time isn’t an option. God has no interest in Sunday Christians who say they will follow Him but who are always looking over their shoulder wondering if they are missing out on something better and second guessing their decision.
Both the second and the third men in our text are dealing with the issue of priority. That’s why we have to honestly ask ourselves where does Jesus fit on our schedule? Do we need to pencil Him in from time to time, or does He have a prominent place in our lives. Is Jesus one of many, or is He your one and only?
Followers or fans of Christ treat Jesus as just one of a hundred different options. They are more than happy to serve someone, if there is nothing better going on. They will make sure their kid is at the Youth functions if there is not a baseball or soccer game, or a dance recital, or a really good movie on TV. They give out of what’s left over at the end of the week instead of giving God what’s first.
Jesus is very clear that making Him one option of many is not an option. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He replied the most important command of them all is to love the Lord with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength. That’s the kind of relationship He demands to have with you.
God describes His relationship with the church as a Bride and Groom. I love that metaphor, because it makes so much sense. What would happen if this week you saw me in a restaurant with a woman who had long blond hair, there were candles on the table, and we were holding hands and laughing. Let’s say you approached the table and asked me what’s going on. Now imagine if I introduced you to the woman and said she was my date. You would probably ask me where Trista was, now imagine if I told you, well tonight is Thursday, my date night with Trista is Friday this is my date for Thursday. Would that seem a bit weird to you? Would you understand if Trista found out and got a bit jealous? Of course, in a marriage there is no room for other options.
God says in Exodus 20:5 I the Lord your God am a jealous God. God does not want our one-day a week affection. He wants your whole heart. Jesus explains that following Him in not something you do part-time or half-way; it’s all or nothing.
In Revelation 3 Jesus says to the church in Laodicia “You are neither hot or cold but because you are lukewarm, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth.” Jesus doesn’t say, everything in moderation, He says you can’t be my follower if you don’t give me everything.
2000 years later the invitation hasn’t changed. Jesus still says, If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. My favorite word in that invitation is ANYONE. No matter what your story, no matter what you’ve done this is the relationship Jesus wants to have with you.
Anyone…Anyone who has ever laid awake in bed and thought I would give anything to undo what I’ve done.
Anyone who has looked at themselves in the mirror and said I can’t believe what I have become.
Anyone is an all-inclusive term, Anyone means everyone. Anyone means me and anyone means you