The 3 C’s of a Healthy Church - Fans but Not Followers
Matthew 28:19 (p. 698) January 29, 2017
Kyle Idleman is the teaching minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY and a few years ago he wrote a series called “Not a Fan.”
Southeast regularly runs over 20,000 on the weekend services…and on Easter Sunday those numbers exploded even bigger…Here’s a video of Kyle expressing how he felt as he approached one Easter weekend…and how it influenced his thinking about being a follower of Jesus…and not just a fan.
SHOW VIDEO (1:22)
Kyle says, “The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ…our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to stadiums…and every week fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in actually following Him.”
The question this morning is how would we honestly define our relationship with Jesus…Are we “enthusiastic admirers,” which is the dictionary definition of “a fan,” or are we followers, which is what a disciple is all about?
Jesus’ Great Commission was to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
It’s such a simple command…“As you follow me make other followers of me.”
But following Jesus requires more than belief and admiration…It requires action.
[Suppose you were out hiking one day and you decide to get off the trail and explore some of the most untraveled areas…and you get lost…I mean you are really lost and can’t find your way out…and after a couple of days you are desperate…you’re cold, wet, and hungry. And as you huddle at the base of a tree a rescue searcher calls your name…and you scream back… “I’m here…Hey, over here.” And he finds you and says “Follow me.” Now you believe he has come to rescue you…you admire his sacrifice to try and find you…but you say, “No, I’ll just stay where I am and wait for a better time…I think I can still find my own way out”…Does your belief get you home? No! Does your admiration for your rescuer save you? Not by a long shot.
If you’re going to get home…you have to follow him out.]
When it comes to fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to make followers who follow Him…we have to be followers who follow Him…we have to be following Him first…and that following starts with my death, burial and resurrection. It’s where the journey begins…it’s:
I. OUR FIRST STEPS TOWARDS HOME
Have you ever met anyone who likes to be told they’re wrong? How ‘bout you…is your first reaction… “Thank you so much for pointing that out…I really appreciate it…come on, give me a hug.”
God’s word says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.” (Col. 1:21)
Romans 5:10 says much of the same thing, “For if while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son.”
God was…or is our enemy because of sin…It’s not His choice, it’s ours. God would be reconciled to us…but we don’t like anyone to tell us we’re wrong…we are sinners, even God…And all of us have sinned and fallen short…so we all are in the same boat…or forest.
Isaiah 53 records a true fact about every one of us… “We all like sheep, have gone astray each of us has turned to our own way.” (v. 6)
But the truth of Jesus’ commission is that in our lostness, someone shows up with a rescue plan…someone who has found their way out by following Jesus says, “Hey, I know the way…I know the truth, I know the life…I know how to get back to the Father…it’s through Jesus Christ alone.”
The miracle happens when the Holy Spirit coordinates with someone sharing this good news by convicting the person whose lost and needs rescue with the truth of how they got there. Jesus said, “when the Holy Spirit shows up He will prove the world to be in the wrong.” (John 16:8)
It happened through Peter on the birthday of the Church…He shares God’s plan…the plan for God to save us all…and the Holy Spirit works.
ACTS 2:23-24, 36-39 (p. 759)
That question “What should we do?’ is the result of the gospel being shared…and the Holy Spirit cutting hearts filled with sin…and Peter’s answer…Take the first step…
“Repent and be baptized.”
The word repent means “turn around” and the word baptism means “immerse.”
Fans…say they believe and stay seated in the stands…they may even cheer for Jesus…but followers leave their old lives…and follow Jesus…and the first place those steps lead them is baptism…It’s where our belief becomes obedience…It’s where we die to self…are immersed in Jesus…and receive His promised Spirit so we can walk in new life…Repentance doesn’t lead us to believing…or joining the Church…or fixing up our relationships…belief leads to our repentance…and repentance leads us to following Jesus in a death, burial and resurrection.
Do you know why we’ve watered down (no pun intended) this first step in the Great Commission? It’s because we don’t want to make it too hard…we don’t want to ask people to surrender their lives…we want to say…just believe in Jesus…just acknowledge Him…but you don’t really have to die to sin…we want to wink and say, “You can follow Jesus…but nothing really needs to change.” And we fill stadiums with fans…instead of disciples who follow Jesus.
You cannot be a follower of Jesus without sacrificing yourself…it’s impossible. It could be we remember Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Which is absolutely true…but we forget Luke 9:23 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” This is also just as true!
Being a disciple…a follower of Jesus begins with self denial…and then a daily crucifixion of self…if I don’t do that, I’m just a fan…I cannot follow in the footsteps of Jesus and mine at the same time.
[There is no forgiveness without repentance.
There is no salvation without surrender.
There is no life without death.
There is no believing without following!
- Kyle Idleman]
But let me end today with the good news of being a follower of Jesus instead of a fan.
II. JESUS WILL ALWAYS BE MORE THAN WE SACRIFICE!
In his book “God Is the Gospel” John Piper asks “Are we in love with Jesus?”
The critical question for our generation - and for every generation - is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
And maybe you hear this question, but you know you’re in Church so you have to act appalled at this notion…but in your heart you think…“You know I might just be OK with that.”
That should scare us a little, because when you are deeply in love with someone you’ll do anything to be with them.
[I didn’t drive thousands of miles dozens of times to Florida for 2 1/2 years because I wanted to see the beach, or get a tan or go fishing in the ocean…I’d drive 15 hours straight, through the night so I could be with Kari Lynn Pascal…when we were apart it was painful…she was on my mind constantly…I took every chance I had to be with her…It wasn’t Florida I loved…it was her…it still is.]
So my question is still…What is your relationship with Jesus? Because you cannot keep your life and give it to Him at the same time…maybe you’re afraid you’ll lose all your friends…you’ll have to stop certain things…You’ll have to love someone you don’t want to love or forgive someone you’d just as soon keep hating…maybe you don’t think the reward is worth the gamble…I understand…I thought and felt all those things…almost everyone who has taken the first step of repentance and baptism has…it is a step of faith.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, they are a new creation. The old things are gone and new things have come.”
Let me end with one of my favorite videos of someone who’s moved from being a fan to a follower.
MICHAEL ANWAR VIDEO (3:10)
A wholehearted follower is someone who goes in all the way…he doesn’t hold back.
If you think you’ll be surrendering a lot…you’re right. He wants it all…He wants all of you…but Jesus will always be more than your sacrifice…so much more.