Jesus never wanted fans. Fans are defined as enthusiastic admirers. Jesus never calls people to be enthusiastic admirers of Him. He wants people who are sold out to His mission and obedient to His teaching. He wants people who will take seriously the challenge to “take up your cross daily” (see Luke 9:23) and die to oneself so that they can live for Christ. Jesus never wanted fans. He wants followers.
This premise set forth by Kyle Idleman in his book, Not a Fan, challenges the readers to take an honest look at whether we would classify ourselves as merely enthusiastic admirers of Jesus or sold-out followers of Jesus. Idleman’s fear is that churches have become stadiums full of fans rather than sanctuaries full of followers.
The introspective analysis of being a fan or follower begins in Part One as readers are encouraged to do a DTR exercise. DTR equals Define the Relationship. Just like dating relationships come to that point where the couple must see where this is heading, our relationship with Christ also comes to that point where we have to decide if we will be fully devoted followers of Jesus. Through the rest of Part One, Idleman walks us through the steps necessary to take an honest look at where we stand with Jesus. Are we genuine followers? Or are we settling for fandom?
In Part 2, Idleman uses Luke 9:23 to call believers in Jesus to answer the invitation to be followers. The call is characterized by an open invitation to anyone who will respond, a passionate pursuit of intentionally walking after Jesus, a total surrender to deny oneself, and an everyday death to self and living to Christ. The frightening yet exhilarating challenge of daily dying to self and living to Christ describes the ongoing battle for believers. This is not a once and for all decision but a daily decision that must be made every morning in a new and fresh way.
In Part 3, Idleman concludes the challenge by calling believers in Christ to go wherever God calls, whenever He calls, and do whatever He calls us to do. This means that the choices of life are no longer in our hands. The Lord is the one calling the shots in our life. Our only choice is to choose to obey and heed the call. We do not have to determine what to do. We only have to determine if we will do what God says we should do. This is both frightening and freeing. I know longer have to figure life out. I only have to listen closely and let God tell me what He has already figured out.
Not a Fan is a thought-provoking read for a believer in Christ. The truth is simple to grasp but difficult to live. Yet, if the principles set forth by Idleman will be applied to our lives, the days of being a fan will be over and the change to being a follower will set us on the most exciting, abundant life possible.
The above book review is based on the following:
Idleman, Kyle. not a fan. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011.