Pam and I hosted a home bible study this summer using Kyle Idleman's Not a Fan book and resources. The group the Lord put together was a great group. They were honest, to tears at times, skeptical when needed, curious, intelligent, open and caring. (Yes, they made me look bad in comparison.) The book's premise is that too much of the 21st century American church is a fan of Jesus but not wholly, committed followers. The question all were to answer for themselves at the end is: Are you a fan or a follower?
When you write a book you have an idea you want to communicate, a theme you want to explore, a theory you want to postulate, a mystery you want to solve, a error you want to correct, a joy or story you want to share. When Pastor Idleman wrote his book he obviously wanted to call people to an authentic and deepening relationship with Jesus. He set up his categories of fan or follower. A fan is a spectator, an admirer, someone on the outside looking in but not involved deeply. A follower of Jesus, with Idleman, is committed to learning from, sacrificing for, changing when called to, following and enjoying a close love-relationship with Jesus. He sees too much fluff and not enough substance. Idleman (and Jesus) wants people to be followers, not fans, and in fact, implies fans, as thus defined, may be in danger of not actually knowing Jesus and His salvation.
Okay... but, I have to be honest with myself and you, sometimes fans are a good thing. (Note here, this is my blog and here I get to set and define the categories.) A fan as Idleman defines it is not good. That I understand. But think about fans for a moment. Some of us are fans because of age, interests, abilities, or giftedness. Take basketball for a moment. I played literally thousands of games but only at a certain skill level. I cannot because of height, age, weight, and skill level be anything but a fan of college and pro basketball. Yet, the game itself needs fans. Fans offer encouragement, energy and to some degree finance certain sports. There are some areas in God's kingdom where I can only be a fan. I don't have the giftedness of the Spirit to work there and Jesus doesn't ask me to follow Him there. But I can be a fan of the worker with thirteen and fourteen year olds. I can be a fan\supporter through prayer and finances at church to some missions and missionaries that I am not called to do personally. Yes, I should be committed enough to be willing to go but where I'm not called or gifted then I should be a good fan of those who are.
I also think back to my salvation experience. I committed all I knew at the time to follow Jesus. Looking back, that commitment looks now kind of shallow, selfish even, compared to what I now know about following. I committed as much as I had to as much as I knew. But God's kingdom allows, expects growth, movement to deeper, higher, wider, callings to follow Christ. I suspect that if God grants me another 30 or 40 years that my understanding of things now will look a bit dingy to what I see then. It is grace that makes the following possible as well as the salvation. I must be on guard and be careful not to make being a follower of Jesus a works-oriented, self-effort endeavor.
The question remains whether using Idleman's categories and definitions or my broader set: Are you a fan or a follower? I struggled to answer. I've decided on this one: I am a fallen follower and a fan. I follow Jesus as a stumbling, bumbling, repentant sinner who truly wants to love and serve him. I am a fan of others in His Kingdom who do their best to follow. I can't walk their walk, make their decisions, face their foes, though mine may be similar. But I can encourage, pray, give, pick-up, and praise their efforts. And as God's grace grants the wisdom, courage, energy, time, mercy and love I will move from "fan" to follower in many areas of the Kingdom. For here is a great truth in our Kingdom of reversals: in life the body ages, the mind fogs, the energy wanes but in the Kingdom, the spirit can soar, the heart grow deeper in love, and the vision of Jesus and His kingdom become clearer. A follower learns that the secret is to keep following- no matter what.
How about you? Fan or follower or follower\fan?
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I head up to the attic. Granddaughter Klaira absolutely adores Mickey Mouse. Pam has a MM stuffed doll from when she was about four. That thing is, well, shall we say, somewhat vintage by now. Pam thought Klaira might want it or at least appreciate it someday. So it's Grandcos' job to hunt for it in the attic.
I haven't found it yet. I will. Maybe when the weather turns cooler. But amid the boxes and deep within one I make a discovery. It made one eye twinkle, one eye cry. Amidst the dust, the insulation, the cardboard I laughed, teared up a little, and gave thanks. It can't be that long, but there's the date. It is there, in faded black and white with dead people's signatures of the 40th anniversary Sunday.
There's so much done but it seems like so little accomplished. There's so much left to be done but there's neither the time or energy to do it. We thought we'd save the world. Didn't happen. Thank God we already have a Savior. Reminds me of a scripture: "Night cometh, when no man can work." John 9:4b
Oh, and Jesus, thank-you for the call. May You shine through much brighter in the last few.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
It's a stray shoe. It's not unusual for a two year old to be unreconciled to her shoe. This one was on top of the buffet. The other, somewhere. On the floor? Under a couch cushion? Under the seat of the car? In her bedroom? In the doghouse? It will turn up. My granddaughter doesn't need it, at least most of the time. She toodles around fine in bare feet. I suppose she might need it to walk on dirty public floors or hot sidewalks. But this shoe was for me this day, not Klaira.
It is empty. The little, lithe, nimble feet are running elsewhere. I snapped the picture. It just grabbed me, so I snapped it. It kind of reminds me of a part of my heart for most of the year. It's a place where blue eyes, a long curl of hair, a crooked smile, and those galloping feet fill for a few days a year. The rest is memory and longing.
There are many empty things besides little girls shoes in our lives. People face empty nests, empty desks, empty schedules, empty bank accounts, empty beds, empty hearts. What was full, occupied, busy, enjoyed is alone, finished, idle, empty. Time, distance, school, jobs, dreams, fate, life and death bring people into our lives and out. The times vary. Some are in and out in rapid succession. Some are in and out in slow motion. Some are in, then out, never to be in again.
It could be rather depressing. And it is for a few moments, but it doesn't last. I'll never see Klaira in these shoes again. By the time I see her again they will be too small. She is growing, moving on, maturing, living and loving. She will need new shoes, bigger shoes. That is right and how it should be. I can't help but think of all those other empty things in life and wonder if maybe they had to become empty because God had bigger dreams and places for hearts and lives growing in His grace to fill. So we feel the emptiness and grieve. We experience the emptiness and long for what was. But we see the empty shoes and also remember that it is God's promise to know His love and be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. We see the empty shoes and long for what can be and will be.
Empty things He still fills--from shoes to hearts.