Fan of Jesus? Or follower?
I can’t get Pastor’s words out of my head from Sunday.
Fan of Jesus?
Am I just a fan? Someone waving my hands in worship, moving my own hot air?
Just an air-blowing “fan”?
Sounds sort of like someone we “friend” on Facebook just because it feels good to have another to add to our zillions.
Just sort of an acquaintance. A face we recognize. A name we know. A number.
Nothing too deep. Nothing too serious.
No one we actually meet with, in person. But someone we don’t totally want to say “no” to either, because, well, that wouldn’t be polite.
Better to pretend “friend” than outright ignore.
Yeah. I get it.
Maybe we want the kind of relationship that costs us nothing—or at least nothing much.
Maybe Jesus is just that “friend” like that “friend” on Facebook. The “friend” we really don’t want knowing our business, unless of course we have some good works to show him—to brag about—to milk for the press of a “like” button.
But if he doesn’t press “like” enough, we kind of “hide” him from our stuff—from our “status”—from our “throne room”.
We can put him into our own secret category nowadays with just a simple click of a button.
He won’t even know, right?
And if we get ticked-off enough, we might just “delete” him from our virtual space. Entirely. Push a button in our brain and—poof—he’s gone. If he says something we don’t like, I mean. Like in the Bible, I mean. You know—that place where Jesus “posts” his “status”, calling himself “Lord of lords and King of kings” and all other antiquated things. Right there along with his antiquated thoughts on life. And his antiquated instructions on how we’re supposed to live our modern lives.
It’s so much WORK—deciding what to DO with JESUS, these days!
Self is so BIG!
So . . .
Maybe these days we’d rather picture Jesus like our BFFs on Facebook.
The one who posts pretty all the time.
Pretty pictures. Pretty words. Pretty things they say about us and our prettified life.
The “feel good” friend. Is that the Jesus we want, “fans” of his?
The one who’s always positive and never negative. And if Jesus expresses his opinion in something so antiquated as THE BIBLE? Well then, it’s not really HIS opinion. It’s the opinion of the WRITERS back then—those fuddy-duddy, bigoted, narrow-minded men.
Or the interpreters right now . . .
Who might just be women.
I mean, we can’t disagree agreeably these days, can we?
Let’s try. Here’s how . . .
Let’s just make up a new Jesus.
O Come, all ye “fans”!
It’s easy enough!
Mold him and make him.
Sort of like Play-Doh.
Shape him into something we like. Something comfortable, likable, easy, non-confrontational, tolerant. Something primary. Something yellow. Something sunny and warm and comforting.
Or . . .
Mix the colors of that king to our liking.
He won’t mind. Because he’s so “tolerant”.
What a friend we have in Jesus! So the old hymn sings.
Let’s shape God in OUR image.
Because we’re free to be, you and me!
I can do life MY way.
And you can do life YOUR way.
And we can ALL make God our OWN way. You know, the whole relativity thing?
We can ALL be fans of Jesus!
Let’s just make Jesus relative—just like our relatives, these days.
Just like we’ve been taught the relativity of other things in our lives—like “truth” and “love”—concepts we’ve come to define relatively, individually, independently of any absolutes.
Hasn’t hurt us, has it?
Hasn’t hurt our kids, our parents, our extended families, our friends, our neighbors, our communities, our churches, our entire culture, our world—has it?
We’re more at peace now than ever—everywhere and with everyone—even with ourselves—aren’t we?
So let’s keep making up our Play-doh Jesus.
Let’s let him show up in our virtual personal space, at least now and then.
And let’s keep expecting he’ll hit the “like” button on everything we think, say, and do.
That would feel good, wouldn’t it? Because that’s what we expect now, isn’t it?
Let’s not let him or his “followers” criticize anything we do or stand in our way of anything we want because we remember our early Sunday school song. We still sing it to ourselves.
Doesn’t it go like this?
Jesus loves me this I know, for he gives me what I’m owed. To me, his “fan”, He does belong—to me who says what’s right and wrong. Yes, Jesus loves me!
I think I got those lyrics right, right?
Now . . .
About those “followers” . . .
If any of them open their mouths or take any sort of stand that doesn’t support us “fans”, well then, we might just have to bully by scapegoating—making his “followers” the problem—shoving them far and away so our ears don’t have to hear and our eyes don’t have to see—so we can sit still in our complacency.
Because we can be “fans” of Jesus and set our own standards. We, the “fans”, can puff up and pour out something like this . . .
If you “love” me, you will not share your particular beliefs that would criticize my beliefs or behaviors. Because the Bible is more a set of “guidelines” than commands, open to personal interpretation, don’t you know? And it’s more important that we just “love” each other and get along. So you will show your “love” for me by supporting things you really don’t believe. And you can show your “love” and support for me just by being quiet. Yes, just being quiet will prove to me that you “love” me. I mean, if you can’t be all vocally supportive, it’s best you just stay still—and quiet. You will quietly look like you tolerate everything I think, say, and do because if you “love” me, you’re won’t stand against me—at least not openly—not in action—even if you are civil or even nice about it. Oh, and BTW, I am now informing you that I will not “tolerate” you not “loving” me—my way. Have you heard me? Good. Now I will press “delete” on you, the “unloving”—the “intolerant”—the “bigoted”. And you shall disappear from my space. Thus saith MY lord, not YOURS.
Think I’m being ridiculous?
Let’s talk gay “rights” for a moment, shall we?
Read WORLD magazine’s latest cover sidebar story about the “Domino Theory” . . .
And the cover story that should have us all shivering because it’s more about freedom than it is about morals.
And how about the celebrity who just made the cover of People this week and July’s Vanity Fair?
Well, he/she has some words to share with the world about the rightness of his/her decision to change genders in Vanity Fair. He/she speaks about himself/herself in the third person, substituting his/her name(s) for he/she:
“This is about your life. Bruce always had to tell a lie. He was always living that lie. Every day he always had a secret, from morning til night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets. As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I’m free.”
He’s/She’s free? When a magazine cover comes out?
I hope so. But I don’t know so.
Some might sit and think I hate.
Actually, I know some of the struggle—the Bruce/Caitlyn struggle.
I’ve counseled. And I’ve had friends. I have friends.
One of my best friends in high school and college—I watched him die of AIDS.
And my best friend from elementary school—the one who bought me a bottle of Avon’s Charisma perfume for my 12th birthday and invited a bunch of boys to come to a party—at my house—and didn’t tell my mom—and she and I were mortified—and she scrambled to make some semblance of a birthday cake—because my best friend and his friends were all dressed up, expecting a birthday party—with cake—because they all brought presents.
Yes, this best friend got married, had kids, then decided he was gay.
And he wrote me a letter when I was in grad school—my doctoral program in clinical psychology. He asked me what I thought, because his therapist said he was “normal”. And I told him what I thought which is what God thinks, if you believe the Bible. I never withdrew love but I told him truth, according to God’s word. And I told him he’d always be my friend.
And then he was gone. He dismissed me from his life.
And it hurt badly because I loved him.
Facebook reunited us years many years later. He’s still gay. I still believe what I believe. He loves me. I love him. We share parts of our lives but not all of our lives. We know where we each stand. I love him no less than I did when I was 12. And I wish he lived closer so I could hug him like I used to and hear his laugh that always made me laugh.
Or how about my husband’s college friend, my friend for 22 years now—the one who is the “wife”. We welcome him in our home. My husband and he play golf. I make him meals. We all still laugh over his two main food groups—donuts and Cheetos.
Or how about the heterosexual couple living together but not married who came with another group of friends to our lake cottage? The woman, my friend for years, she respected our “as for me and my house” stance that unmarried couples sleep in separate rooms under our roof, no matter their age, no matter how they sleep elsewhere. And she has never treated me like a less-than because of our “as for me and my house”.
It’s possible to stand for something.
It’s possible for people to show some respect.
Then again, it’s possible to be “stoned” with modern methods by those intolerant of those they deem “intolerant”.
Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
I used to say that back to the bullies who called me “Bozo” from third grade until I graduated from high school, all the while crying on the inside, because those I wanted to like me laughed.
It wasn’t easy being a girl with red, frizzy hair in the 60’s and 70’s. It wasn’t easy, reminding myself of the one who created me—hair and all.
It wasn’t easy being thankful for being different.
But there are more serious issues than hair . . .
It’s so easy to fall in love with Jesus, being a fan. It’s a bit harder standing up, being a follower.
For example . . .
It wasn’t easy to be the only one who stayed seated in a high school psychology classroom where two girls walked in, dressed in black, saying they were witches, and demanded we rise “in honor of Satan”, and repeat after them their incantation—with the teacher nowhere to be seen.
It wasn’t easy having those girls, my forensics teammates—with whom I traveled to tournaments every single Saturday—stare at me and ask why I wasn’t standing in praise of Satan—in front of the entire class—with no teacher—with no adult to help me.
It wasn’t easy saying aloud that I was a FOLLOWER of Jesus Christ and I would not stand for anything or anyone other than Him, especially not Satan.
It wasn’t easy hearing their laughter and some of the others’ snickers.
It wasn’t easy standing up while everyone watched me walk out, shaking.
It wasn’t easy walking down that long, long hall to the guidance counselor and telling her what had just occurred in that room where the teacher had stepped out and had—no—idea.
It wasn’t easy hearing the guidance counselor tell me it “wasn’t a big deal” and to “try and settle down” because the girls were probably just being dramatic for the class assignment.
We were told to pick a controversial topic and defend it or refute it—from a psychological point of view.
My topic? Euthanasia. I refuted.
Theirs? Satan worship. They defended.
I didn’t change the counselor’s mind when I told her that these girls were on the forensics team with me and I had stumbled upon their satanic ring in the backyard of a neighborhood party where they were professing their loyalty to Satan. And she didn’t know the half of what I had dabbled in and renounced once I received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I knew the power of occult—of Satan. And I would never, ever dabble again.
I didn’t hate these girls. I hated what they did. I hated what they allowed to be done to themselves—to naïve others. I hated the god they had chosen. Because THAT god kills. I know.
I don’t hate people.
I hate the sin that strangles.
I hate the one who convinces God’s beloved that “surely you won’t die” when we wander off the path of obedience and entertain the enticing tongue that lures, only to squeeze life away and devour.
But I’ll tell you, from experience, the worst snake in the pit is not the overt evil one. The worst snake in the pit is the “fan” of Jesus—the one who sits on the fence named “both/and”. The one who wants to live according to their own definitions of “right” and “wrong” and still claim they are Christian.
These are the snakes in the grass.
These are the vipers we don’t see.
These are the venomous, most dangerous brood.
These are those whom Jesus rebuked most harshly—the religious who have no taste for the real Jesus—the real Messiah—the Way, the Truth, the Life.
“Fans” of Jesus, we can’t have it all—faith in God and life according to how we define “right” and “wrong”.
“Followers” of Jesus, we can’t be relativists. We must believe all—or nothing.
“Fans” and “followers”—either Jesus is who he says he is, or he isn’t.
He said he’s the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One and Only Son of God, who sets all standards, who defines all terms, who sets the plumb line that never moves for anyone.
And Jesus—was obedient—to God—the Father—unto death—a death that wasn’t pleasant, comfortable, or convenient.
It wasn’t easy.
He sacrificed all. For us. For you. For me. For all. “Fan” and “follower”.
Because maybe we’ll hide from the real Jesus behind the robes of our modern “righteous”—those ordained leaders who are redefining “normal”, chipping away at the written-in-stone by the finger of God.
Because maybe we’d rather listen to preachers who tickle our ears than prophets who evoke some good fear. Maybe preachers would rather be popular than stoned. And maybe we’re just like those we listen to most.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
One of the twelve disciples, Matthew recorded what Jesus said . . .
. . . you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. Matthew 23:37-38
Will we look at his love and still be unwilling?
Will we still have just SOME of Jesus, picking and choosing?
Will we let our “house” keep crumbling?
Oh Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner! Let it not be so in me! Make me a follower, not a fan. I pray this prayer of Tozer. Fan the cold of my heart—of all our hearts—into flame by the breath of your Holy Spirit . . .
O God, be Thou exalted over my possessions. Nothing of earth’s treasures shall seem dear unto me if only Thou are glorified in my life. Be Thou exalted over my friendships. I am determined that Thou shalt be above all, though I must stand deserted and alone in the midst of the earth. Be Thou exalted above my comforts. Though it mean the loss of bodily comforts and the carrying of heavy crosses, I shall keep my vow made this day before thee. Be Thou exalted over my reputation. Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream. Rise, O Lord, into Thy proper place of honor, above my ambitions, above my likes and dislikes, above my family, my health and even my life itself. Let me sink that Thou mayest rise above. Ride forth upon me as Thou didst ride into Jerusalem mounted upon the humble little beast, a colt, the foal of an ass, and let me hear the children cry to Thee, “Hosanna in the highest.”
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God