Thursday, November 29, 2012

Follower, Fan or Something Else

I recently had a friend ask me about a book that contrasts the difference between being a fan of Jesus Christ and truly being a follower. I had not read the book so I could not recommend for or against it. However the subject matter intrigues me. There is no doubt that in a day when Christian churches today go out of their way to be seeker friendly and culturally relevant, there are fewer challenges and demands made on believers resulting in a climate that has all the excitement of a sporting event but little emphasis on following in the footsteps of the Master we are praising. This certainly is something that bears consideration, and a book that does justice to the topic should not be dismissed lightly.
The more I thought on the subject, however, I began to be disturbed about one thing. Certainly there are many believers who can be called fans, i.e. those that hoot and holler, praising Jesus, but have never done much else to grow in His grace. Certainly, we ought to be encouraging believers in Christ to a deeper relationship which is expressed by following in His footsteps. What bothers me though is that the writers of the New Testament (whereever the writer is named) do not refer to themselves as followers but rather as servants (more accurately bond servants) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact that there is a difference between being a follower and a bond slave is something not to be missed. It might not be popular to try to impress upon worldly believers that they need to move away from being merely fans of but to follow Christ. How much more unpopular is it to suggest we are to be His bond slaves bought by His blood, shed at Calvary? However this is what Scripture suggests when it calls Him our Lord. Any book on this subject (and this is no criticism of the book I mentioned, for I have not read it), doing justice to the idea that believers ought to consider ourselves bond slaves of Jesus Christ might be tolerated but is not likely to be popular at in the current world of Christianity.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ is not to be missed in God’s Word. John 1 goes in to great depths to establish that Who Jesus is with the implication that He is the Lord of all creation. Consequently, when John writes in verse 12, “But as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name,” there is little doubt that it is the Lord Jesus Christ that we are to receive. Paul reinforces this in Acts 16:31 when he says to the Philippian jailer “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” and again in Romans 10:9 when he says to confess with your mouth “The Lord Jesus.”
It is a popular and very correct teaching that we are saved by faith alone. However, when should I imply that saving faith involves receiving Jesus into our lives as Lord, I am likely to be accused of teaching “lordship salvation" with the implication that I am introducing works into the process. However, the Bible is clear. Salvation comes when faith results in the invitation of the Lord Jesus Christ into our lives. However, that in no means implies we are consistent in giving Him this Lordship. Growth, sanctification or better yet, relationship comes as we surrender to His Lordship. When He is our Lord we can see ourselves as His bond slaves, bought by His blood, yielded to His service.
I am reminded of a tract that puts it this way, “All that I have, all that I am, and all I ever hope to be, I give it all to thee (Jesus). I may follow Jesus and I should for this is important. But He is more than a teacher whose steps I ought to follow. He is my Lord to Whom I owe everything I am and have. Consequently, I am ever in His debt and called to His service no matter how exciting or humbling that service may appear to me. To do less is to deny my true relationship to Him, keeping me from the blessings that come through His grace. However, in our modern culture that glorifies self, this is not relevant, nor is it popular, but unless we teach this we are failing a generation of believers, inhibiting their growth, cheapening the Gospel whose goal is to change lives delivering from the power of sin..