Are you a follower or a fan?

ImageI’m not a fan of most things. I rarely keep up with celebrities, artists, sports teams, or popular books. I’m just now reading Ayana Mathis’s The Twelve Tribes of Hattie that debut last year, with the Oprah’s seal of approval. (I haven’t actually read it, just checked it out at the library.) Sometimes, for days on end, I stay away from Facebook and Twitter. Even though Scandal is one of my favorite nighttime dramas, I record it and watch it on Friday.  Most times, I can live without the television.  A fan is an enthusiastic devotee, a fervent, passionate admirer.

When I become a follower on a social media site, I’m merely just a fan, and not as devoted as I should be. Same with sports, I prefer football to basketball, basketball to golf, and tennis to baseball. (I’m only watching the Williams’s sisters. I’m a fan of them.) I simply prefer not to watch baseball on the screen. Please if I must, take me to the ballgame and give me some peanuts and crackerjacks. I can watch sports while I read a magazine, pay bills, fold laundry, or do something else. I can hang out on social media sights for one or two days, maybe a month or two, then I’m done. I’m an admirer of these things, not totally committed.

However, what I’ve discovered is I’m more than a fan for Jesus, but a follower because he’s my savior, Lord over my life.  Once I was just a fan. I went to church twice a month, rarely if ever cracked opened the Bible at home. I didn’t memorize scripture or even attempt to understand God’s promises. When I sat in the pew, I heard what the preacher said, but I didn’t listen; I didn’t even search the scriptures for more meaning. But I was a fan, enthusiastic about God, an admirer of Jesus.

Along the way, my life transformed from a fan to a follower, from a spectator to a servant, from an admirer to an imitator.

Here are the signs if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ:

  • Followers give Jesus the master key he wants to turn their life upside down.
  • Followers give Him more than an hour a week on Sunday.
  • A follower’s prayers are more than whispered prayers at night in their bed before going to sleep.
  • Followers do not consider God a small box of religion.
  • Followers are not defined by their religious credentials.
  • Followers do not believe their good deeds get them to heaven.
  • Followers have a relationship with Jesus, not simply knowledge but intimacy.
  • Followers love him with all their heart.
  • Followers have unconditional joy and peace that God is in charge despite the circumstances.

How many lives would change if you followed Jesus? When you stand before God will you be judged as a follower or a fan?

In A Place of Cheap or Free Grace

ImageMy grace is sufficient for you…” is a powerful verse. Although easily said, it’s tough living the scripture when life doesn’t seem smooth or when our preference is not God’s provision until one truly understands grace. When God blesses us, despite the fact that we do not deserve it; that’s grace.  When good things happen to the unworthy, that’s grace. And it’s free. Free to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Hence God’s daily bread for our life is ample.

Imagine a moment when you were in a place of free grace? Scriptures illustrate these characteristics of those blessed by God’s grace: fruitful and grow, Genesis 1:22, happiness and prosperity, Genesis 22:16-18, build you up and give you an inheritance, Acts 20:32.

However these blessings come only with obedience to God’s commands. Repeatedly from Old Testament to New there are if then clauses: If God’s people obey, change, seek, love…, then He will provide, increase, protect…you get the picture.

So why would one want cheap grace? In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship, cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance. Baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, the cross, and without Jesus Christ, living and personified.

And living with cheap grace gives us unholy rest.

I don’t know about you, but I want free grace. I don’t want to claim to follow Christ, yet live my life my way: no rules, no discipline, no structure, no Bible, no prayer, no  church, wanton and crazy. I’ve done that, too.

Are you in the place of free or cheap grace?