On the Road from Fandom
We are doing the series in small groups called, “notafan” by Kyle Idleman. Groups through our church are meeting this week for the first installment of the series. Our meeting happened last night and I feel it went really well. Small groups are a great way to really get to know people, have some quality food, and connect through meaningful conversation.
The notafan study challenges the participants to gauge their level of committment to Jesus, “Are you Fan or a Follower?”. Idleman shares his conviction that Churches are filled with Christians who are fans or spectators instead of people who will give up everything (“deny oneself” Luke 9:23) for Jesus and follow Him. One of the coined phrases in the book and study is: “Completely, Committed, Follower”. From this came a question in group last night that I think is worthy of considering here.
Is it possible for followers of Christ to be completely committed? Is the bar that Idleman sets with Jesus’ words too high for followers to reach? Complete commitment? Idleman is clear in the book and study that perfection isn’t the goal. Jesus doesn’t expect perfection. No deity, who has any experience with humanity (particularly this human) could expect it, especially Jesus. Our less than perfect (the Bible calls it “evil”) nature is a chief reason Jesus came, died and rose.
So the question bounced around the room last night a few times. Is the bar Idleman sets with Luke 9:23 attainable? Completely, Committed, Follower.
The consensus in the group I think is explained pretty well by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10-14. Paul wants wholeheartedly to identify with Jesus, to know him intimately by understanding his sufferings and death; to know the power of resurrection. This is also a main theme in the notafan book and study; through dying to ourselves we find life. But then Paul continues by saying that he hasn’t obtained what he so desperately seeks. He doesn’t identify with Jesus completely, doesn’t know the measure of his sufferings and hasn’t experienced resurrection from death at that time. Paul explains that he is “in process” as he forgets what is behind and strains toward what is ahead. In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul describes his life following Jesus as a road race he has been faithful to run.
I think the consensus from our group last night is that it takes complete commitment to get in the road race and stay on the road. No matter the pace (or skill, or finesse or non-perfection) of the runner or the stage of the race, the completely committed runners stay the course and finish. I think Idleman would agree. I think notafan calls all people who claim to love Jesus to get on the road and in the race; to follow the one that Paul was following. For that it truly takes a Completely, Committed, Follower.