Not A Fan

January 3, 2012

One of the most challenging books that I read this past year was “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman.  Many people in the United States agree with the Doobie Brothers that “Jesus is just alright.”  Most would even agree that they “believe” in Jesus.  Idleman proposes that Jesus has many “fans.”  The challenge is that Christ never wanted “fans” that simply believe.  He called for followers.

Here are some quotes from the book that I underlined & highlighted that hit close to home with me & a few comments from me in italics:

There is no way to follow Jesus without Him interfering with your life.

Most of us don’t mind making some minor changes in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our fives upside down.  Fans don’t mind a little touch up work, but Jesus wants a major renovation.

When we decide to “believe” in Jesus without making a commitment to follow, we are nothing more than fans.

In the Gospels, Jesus said, “Believe in me” about 5 times.  He said, “Follow me” about twenty times.

It’s not that a fan doesn’t want a relationship with Jesus.  They just want the relationship on their own terms. 

Luke 9:23:  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself daily, pick up his cross, and follow me.”


The satirical magazine, “The Door,” suggested that couples living together share these vows:

“I John, take you Mary, to be my cohabitant, to have sex with, and to share bills with.

I’ll be around while things are good, but I probably won’t be if things get tough. As the saying goes, ‘When the going gets tough, seek greener pastures.’ After all, the grass frequently IS greener on the other side of the fence.

If you should get a cold, I’ll run to the drugstore for some medicine-but if you get sick to the point where you take more than a day or two off work, don’t count on me.

And forsaking many others, I will be more or less faithful to you for as long as it feels good to me.

If you should ever catch me screwing around on you, remember it doesn’t necessarily mean that I no longer care for you. I will still probably want to share bed and bills with you.

So help me!”

Idleman suggests that fans are offering these kind of vows to Jesus.  “I’ll follow you as long as things are good and you hold up your end of the deal.  I’ll follow you as long as you don’t ask too much of me.”

If we’re serious about following Jesus, we aren’t just “trying God” to see if it will work out.  We don’t have a plan B if God doesn’t come through.  We are laying our life down and agreeing to follow Jesus, regardless of the consequences.


Fans want to follow Jesus on their own terms.  Barna surveyed a group in America that said that they “believe” in Jesus.  Of that group:

  • Only 23% also believed that sex outside of marriage was wrong
  • 13% agreed that getting drunk is a sin

Fans want to be included in the group that “believes” in Jesus, but they want to come to Him on their own terms.  Jesus never left open the option of selective commitment. 

Jesus makes it clear that following Him means taking up your cross and dying to yourself.

What are your thoughts about fan vs. follower?

2 Responses to “Not A Fan”

  1. Kirk Burroughs said

    Eddie – I appreciate your posting and an opportunity to share something from a different angle. The dilemma of the so called “committed” vs. the “non-committed” Christian is certainly not a problem just for today, as you know it has always been around.

    The two sons in the prodigal son story are the two best backdrops for the Christian experience. The youngest is positionally a son, but he goes off perhaps to test the bounds of grace (would it have its limitations). The other son stays and dedicates his life to more service. Both found themselves on two different life courses. Only the youngest son would find out who he truly was and that grace has no limitations. Its interesting to note that the younger son said to himself “it would be better to go and be a servant than to live like this”. What he found was even after all of the folly, before he had a chance to say anything about his behavior, the Father embraced him and identified him as a “Son” with a ring and a robe and celebrated his return. I also find the older son’s attitude interesting, he became angry because he was committed to the service or work of his Father, and the Father’s response to him was he could have been enjoying his inheritance all along.
    The problem is not committed vs. non committed, it is much deeper than that. It is Son ship or Daughter ship, how many would truly know what those terms mean. More importantly how many have ever experienced what it feels like to be totally accepted, loved and embraced by the Father. Most have never experienced that kind of love, most have had terrible examples from earthly dad’s and think no differently of God (distant, uninvolved, strict, angry, etc.) Outward behavior or commitment is preceded by inward change or in response to the Fathers love. Most Christians have never moved past the cross (which is a wonderful thing) to the resurrection. If we camp out at a place of sin and forgiveness and never go deeper to the place that “true life” “resurrected life in Christ”. There is only sin focus, power for change is found in the life of Christ in us, not on my ability to be more committed. Rededication is only a re-adjustment of fig leaves.

    Hope you find this differing view point non offensive.



    • eddiepoole said

      Thanks for the input, Kirk! Good points and it is definitely something that I have always wrestled with. Along the same veins, the story that I told Sunday about my grandfather relates to this.

      I’ll tell it again for those who weren’t at church. I was in college, driving to my grandparent’s house, and praying. The Spirit of God came into my car in a big way and I felt very close to God at that moment. I told God, “I really need to know where my Grandfather is with You.” He had always encouraged me in “church,” but we had never talked about his relationship with Jesus. It was obvious that he wasn’t living for God.

      When I arrived at his house, he was outside and sitting on the front porch swing. HE then began telling me about his relationship with Jesus without me asking. That certainly seems to indicate that he knew Jesus but wasn’t living for Him.

      At the same time, the Scriptures say “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and I (God) will respond to them, ‘I never knew you.'”

      I will admit real quick that I don’t know the answer to the “committed vs. non-committed” issue. I know that this book challenged me in my commitment. I certainly can’t and won’t throw stones at anyone who isn’t living for God but claiming to be a believer. All I know to do is to challenge them to grow closer and examine their own life. For me personally and my own life, I feel like the question isn’t “How close to sin can I get and be ok.” It is “How close to God can I get.” That way, I try to stay away from the grey area because of my relationship with Him and His grace.

      Nothing that I do will ever measure up to the “standard” which is Jesus. I also know that James says that if you fail in the law at any point, it’s the same as failing at every point. I couldn’t agree more that the power to change is found in the relationship and not in the commitment or in the “trying.” I also believe that the relationship will lead to more fruit as we grow closer to Jesus in our relationship.

      Thanks for the input. I’d love to hear more from you or anyone on this subject. That challenges me too!

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