Summary: Called to be disciples, do we follow Jesus in love and obedience? Do we live life in His Way? Or do we pick and choose what we like from Jesus.

Sermon for CATM – Sunday June 5, 2011 – Am I a Fan or Follower?

Toronto Star Headline: Does Religion Belong at AA. Fight Over ‘God’ Splits Toronto AA Groups

The recovery group Alcoholics Anonymous is struggling over its very DNA. The group was founded on Jesus being the key to transformation for those seeking freedom from addictions.

In its desire to bring the principles of AA to a broader group, the term ‘higher power’ is used in its description of God. Christians know who that higher power is.

Now two schismatic groups within AA called “Beyond Belief” and “We Agnostics” are trying to assert its legitimacy within AA and as a result there is some tension in the AA.

The side the media is taking is predictably critical of those who want AA to continue to recognize and keep central the reality of God’s transforming power in recovery.

But this begs the question: Does God make a difference in a person’s life? Can ‘community’ ‘mindfulness’ or ‘self-awareness’ as the schismatic AA groups assert, replace God. Is God relevant anymore?

Does being someone who acknowledges Jesus make any difference anymore? My answer might surprise you. My answer is, “it depends”.

Osama Bin Laden [Show photo] is quite dead. There is not much argument about that any more. In the US, our neighbour country to the south, there was mixed reaction to the killing of Osama.

Many Christians celebrated the death of the architect of 9/11. Some among those who celebrated suggested that it was almost a moral imperative to bask in the joy of Bin Laden’s death. Other Christians, of all stripes, were much less enthusiastic, much less triumphal.

My own initial thoughts were, “Good on you, Obama, good on you Special Forces”.

Then I started to feel uncomfortable with that response, so I justified myself by thinking that if they hadn’t killed him and had just captured him and put him on trial for his atrocities, that would have been all kinds of messy.

Then I remembered the teachings of Jesus and I started to feel very uncomfortable with my own initial response to the murder of Osama Bin Laden. It dawned on me that I was way, way off.

As they always do, the thoughts of God make mincemeat of my own best thoughts and imaginings.

The thoughts of God, the Word of God and the teaching of Jesus don’t let me get away with much.

If I really want to follow Jesus, does it mean that I need to do as He did and live the life the way He did?

It might be more accurate to say, if I don’t really want to do life the way Jesus tells me, that I’m more of a fan than a follower. And that is the ‘depends’ that I mentioned earlier.

Whether or not Jesus truly makes a difference in a life depends on one question: Am I a fan or a follower of Christ.

And if that’s the case, what’s the difference between being a follower vs. a fan of Jesus?


If I want to be fan of Jesus, I will:

As A Fan I Would Admire His Charisma and Authority

Jesus had impressive authority. He commanded large audiences when he wanted to. 4000, 5000 – all without a personal PA system. Impressive. He was a maverick, a non-conformist, a dissenter to the status quo, and He called out those in authority.

He spoke like someone who knew what He was talking about and people took Him very seriously once He got going. As a fan of Jesus, his authority will attract me?

If I’m of one political persuasion or another and I think that invoking His name might buy me some credibility or help to further my agenda, I might be, as a fan, attracted to Jesus.

As A Fan I Would Admire His Power

Jesus’ authority extended into performing remarkable miracles, everything from healing the blind to causing the lame to walk to raising the dead and lots in between. I would be impressed by that power.

If I had a use for that kind of power, if I saw an advantage in it, I might be attracted to Jesus. I might even be a fan. I might follow along with other disciples and be included in their life.

Can you think of who in the gospel story was attracted to Jesus authority and power? [Judas, others who saw in Jesus the power and authority of a political mover and shaker]

As A Fan I Would Admire His Teachings,

I might admire some of Jesus’ teachings. As a fan, I would probably appreciate certain of His sayings over others. I could live with “Blessed are the poor” perhaps. I wouldn’t know what it means, but it wouldn’t, perhaps, particularly bother me. I could live with “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.

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