Sunday, May 24, 2009

Not a fan

Social currency has been getting a lot of press for the last few years. Ever since Friendster gave way to MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, their users have rediscovered the fact that there is value - whether real or perceived - in who you know.

What's interesting is that, in recognizing that value, it's been distorted in strange ways. What began as a way of reconnecting with old friends and finding new ones didn't take long to devolve into a race to add friends and fans. The quantity of "relationships" (use that word loosely!) became more important than the inherent value they brought. And this new "relationship as currency" works two ways.
  1. I want to rack up as many fans of my facebook page as possible to prove how valuable I am to know!
  2. I want to associate myself with people, bands, athletes and causes that I think are cool in the hopes that, by my affiliation, I'll inherit some of their coolness

And it's in that context that my church has started to talk about our relationship with Jesus in a way that distinguishes between "fan" and "follower." For those of you who aren't Christians, this message doesn't really apply - directly. But it may shed some light on what Christianity really is . . . and it's probably different from what you think.

A lot of people think that being a Christian means that you try really hard to do what's right. And true Christians can often be identified through their deeds. But the point is that you can admire Jesus' miracles and the way he lived his life . . . you can even believe that he's the son of God and be restored to a relationship with God as a result. But those are "fan" behaviors. Being a follower is something else entirely.

Jesus tells us what's required of his followers - his truly committed followers - many times. Here are two that stand out to me:

Luke 9:23 - Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

John 12:26 - "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me."

There's no mistaking the level of commitment required through those verses. And I can say that today I'm more like a fan of Jesus than a completely committed follower. But I'm ready to change that. I'm committed to starting every day with a recognition that not only is Jesus my Savior, but also my Lord . . . and I'm going to pray to deny my own desires in favor of his will in my life. In other words, I will pray to die to myself just as Christ did when he accepted the humiliation of death on a cross.

I'm scared to publish this post. I don't know what people will think of me if they read it. But I do know that I can't really be a completely committed follower of Christ if I let those things stop me - and unless I am completely ready to accept the consequences. I may lose some fans - or some friends. But at the end of the day, none of that matters relative to living as Christ has asked me to.

If you'd like to find out more, please feel free to reach out to me, or to visit