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ADMIRER OR FOLLOWER?


Recently I heard that in Scotland, a voluntary survey was given to law enforcement officers of their religious affiliations. That may not sound very interesting, but what caught my attention was that 8 of the officers claimed their religious affiliation to be "Jedi". I laughed at the thought because I was sure it was a prank, but I then discovered that having "Jedi" as one's religious affiliation is not a joke after all.


It was reported that there are an increased number of people who participate in light-saber trainings (ouch, if I remember right, one hit will take your arm right off) and meditation sessions to increase their Jedi skills. I'm not sure what I think of law enforcement having "Jedi" as their religious affiliation as we have all seen what happens when a Jedi turns to the dark side!


Anyways, I am a fan of Star Wars. I watch the movies. I watch the cartoons (sometimes). I enjoy playing light-saber fights with my son. If you ask me about Star Wars, I will praise the movies, the storyline, and the special effects. I will tell you that I think all of the movies were far ahead of their time in terms of technology, storyline, and computer generated effects.


Matthew reminds me today that if I want to grow in my intimacy with my Savior, there is a great difference between an admiring fan and a devoted follower. Jesus searches for and calls His followers to be devoted followers, not admiring fans.


While I am an admiring fan of Star Wars, I am surely not a devoted follower. While Star Wars entertains me, I do not change the way I live or the way I think based on the movie. I do not seek to learn more about the force outside of the movies. I don't train in or engage in light-saber battles (except with my 6 year old son). I don't spend time with people discussing the dynamics of Star Wars. I don't practice using my Jedi skills to control other people's thoughts (although that does sound rather fun). While I do enjoy the sights, sounds, and action that the movies provide, there is nothing significant that changes in my life because of those movies.


It may be unfortunate, but there are many people in the church who are admiring fans of Jesus. There are many who applaud the carpenter from Nazareth and the cross from 2 thousand years ago. There are many who enjoy hearing about the miracles Jesus performed, the inspiring stories from the scriptures, and hearing the jokes that Pastor will share during weekend services, however, nothing changes in their day to day lives. There are too many people who speak well of Jesus and the church, but neither He or His church affects what they do outside the church walls. Jesus entertains them and they enjoy the sights and sounds that the church provides, but there are no significant changes to the way they live or how they think. They are admiring fans of Jesus!



In my walk with Jesus, Matthew reminds me that I must be sure that I am not just an admiring fan but a devoted follower. Jesus says in Matthew to "make disciples of all nations." He doesn't want a large crowd of fans speaking well of Him. He doesn't want fans of the cross and people whose faith simply entails the wearing of a cross around their neck and a bumper sticker on their car.


Jesus wants followers, or disciples, whose hearts are thrown across the line, who make it their passion everyday to please Him, and who are willing to follow Him with a reckless abandon for His cause. I must move from being one who admires what He has done, can do, and is doing, to one who is devoted to following Jesus regardless of the cost and consequences.

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