Summary: Being a follower of Jesus is more than just admiring Him from a distance or giving him our time on Sunday mornings. It is literally taking on the person, the mind, and the heart of Jesus. We are called to be worshippers with our whole lives not just an au
The Journey of Transformation
Kyle Idelman writes, It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was sitting in our sanctuary where 30,000 people would soon be coming to one of our Easter services. I had no idea what I was going to say to them. I could feel the pressure mounting. I sat there hoping that a sermon would come to mind. I looked around at the empty seats, hoping for some inspiration; instead, there was just more perspiration. I wiped the sweat off my brow and looked down. "This sermon needs to be good," I told myself. There are some people who only come to church on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to make sure they all came back. "What could I say to get their attention? How could I make my message more appealing? Is there something creative I could do that would be a big hit and get people talking?" Still nothing.
There was a Bible on the chair in front of me. I grabbed it, but I couldn't think of one passage that would "wow" them…..Finally, a thought crossed my mind: "I wonder what Jesus taught whenever he had the big crowds." What….I found (is) that when Jesus had large crowds, he would often preach a message that would be more likely to drive listeners away rather than encourage them to return for next week's message. When Easter weekend came, I was so convicted that I stood up and began my sermon with an apology, "I'm sorry for sometimes selling Jesus cheap and watering down the gospel in hopes that more of you would fill these seats." I followed up with a sermon entitled, "Not a Fan." We went word-for-word though Luke 9:23—Jesus' invitation to follow him—and honestly asked ourselves, "Am I a fan or a follower of Jesus?" The dictionary defines fans as "enthusiastic admirers. Jesus was never interested in enthusiastic admirers; he wanted completely committed followers. He wants more from us than a hand raised or a prayer repeated at the end the service. He is looking for more than a prayer before a meal and a Jesus fish on the back of the car. He wants more than fans; he wants followers who take up a cross and die to themselves. And then he writes, “there is no believing without following, no salvation without surrender, no forgiveness without repentance, and no life without death.”
Being a follower of Jesus is more than just admiring Him from a distance or giving him our time on Sunday mornings. It is literally taking on the person, the mind, and the heart of Jesus. We are called to be worshippers with our whole lives not just an audience on Sunday morning. We are called to be servants, not just volunteers. We are called to sacrifice and not just givers. We are called to be followers. A disciple first and foremost means radical life change. When Jesus invited Simon and Andrew to come and follow him, he then said, "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Repent in the original Greek means more than to confess your sins. It literally means to go the opposite direction with your life. It means to go the opposite way the world lives and instead go in the direction of the kingdom. For most of us, that means dramatic life change. Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart, writes, “Genuine conversion is a wrenching experience.…It can cause deep and permanent damage to the most intimate of relationships, as Jesus forewarned…..This change is the equivalent of a soul earthquake that leaves nothing unshaken.” For many of us, this means we will need to think differently and it will mean we need to make decisions differently. This and only this will lead to us acting and living differently.
Second being a disciple is a lifelong learner. We should never reach a point in life at which we are no longer learners. That means our spiritual growth should be our main priority so that we then can do the work of the kingdom which is discipling others. So make a commitment to continue to grow spiritually by reading the Bible and praying to God, listening for His voice daily. Worship God every Sabbath. Get in a small group Bible study. Discover your spiritual gift and serve others in the name of Jesus. Intentionally develop relationships with the unchurched and begin to have spiritual conversations with them. As you begin to commit to these practice you will find that you will become more like Jesus.
Third, a disciple is a follower of Jesus and not a fan. The fact of the matter is that most Christians are fans of Jesus rather than followers. And yet Jesus calls us to follow him. We don’t follow Jesus because of who he is. We don’t follow Jesus because of what he taught. We don’t follow Jesus because of what he did. We follow Jesus to become like Him.