Fan or Follower?

The question

Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus? This thought-provoking question was asked on a program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Fan and follower sound the same, so what's the difference?

The difference

Fans say Jesus was a great teacher who taught valuable lessons. They also like how Jesus taught about love but don’t know specifics or about other lessons he taught. Fans say they like Jesus but don’t think about him every day.

A true follower goes beyond a fan by making sacrifices to follow Jesus. Jesus said those who follow him must deny themselves and take up their cross(Matt. 16:24), meaning sacrifice. Anyone who doesn't make a personal sacrifice isn't worthy to be a follower of Jesus(Matt. 10: 38;Luke 14:27).

Biblical examples

The story of the rich man is an example of a fan(Matt. 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). The rich man referred to Jesus as "good teacher" and asked how he can have eternal life. Jesus asked if the man kept the 10 commandments, which the man said yes to. Jesus then said something was missing and that the man should sell his possessions and then join him. The rich man walked away sad, unwilling to give up his wealth.

The disciples of Jesus are examples of followers. Matthew gave up being a tax collector to follow Jesus(Matt. 9:9). Jesus said to follow him and Matthew did. As a tax collector, Matthew was wealthy and lived a life of luxury but gave that up when he followed Jesus.

Another example of a follower is the Apostle Paul. Paul was well-educated and a rising member of the Jewish hierarchy. He killed and persecuted Christians until he saw the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus(Acts 9:1-9). After that Paul travelled to several countries and spread the Gospel. He wrote letters to Romans, those in modern-day Greece and others proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Like the disciples, Paul also gave up a good life. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said it was all worth it(Phil. 3:7-9).

What this means

Are you willing to change your life and spread the Gospel if you feel the calling? This includes no longer hanging out with people who can only relate to fleshly desires. Acting Christian sometimes won't be popular. Those that follow through distinguish themselves as followers as opposed to merely fans. Jesus asks what good is the world to a man if a man forfeits his soul(Matt. 16:26).

Last updated 3/2/2012