I'm still enjoying plodding slowly through John's Gospel with our people at Barney's. This last Sunday we thought about the way in which Jesus called some regular guys, fishermen mosty, to leave the way of life they had always known, and follow him. You can read the story in John 1:35-50.
What Jesus didWe thought firstly about what Jesus did, and said. I was struck by the clear description John gives of Jesus 'seeing' the guys. Andrew and his companion were 'seen' by Jesus, before he spoke to them. Even more clearly, Jesus tells Nathanael that he had seen him previously, while he was sitting under the tree.
This strikes me, because for all kinds of reasons we tend to think that we are the ones doing most of the work in terms of getting to know Jesus. But Jesus sees us. He looks for us. He knows us - before we do anything!
What the disciples did Anyway, he says to these young guys, 'Come and see. Come and follow me.' And they do. Maybe they had had a little longer to get to know him than the author, John, suggests, but nevertheless, they hear Jesus say, 'Come' and the go. They hear Jesus say "follow", and they're off…
And not only do they follow themselves, but straight away they tell their friends (Philip to Nathanael) and brothers (Andrew to Simon Peter) to come as well. "Come and see," Jesus says. "Come and see," says Philip to Nathanael.
What am I going to do? The key challenge that struck me this time as I read this passage, is this real challenge to 'follow' Jesus. As I chewed this over for a bit, I found myself remembering being back in Geelong, watching the mighty Cats at Kardinia Park! (We were only in Geelong two years, but the Cats were - and still are - going pretty well at that time!) I remembered reading about one of the most well-known (and slightly disturbing!)
As you can see, he's pretty into the Cats! More than most people. And yet despite the full-on appearance and apparent fanaticism, Catman is actually, in real-life, a fairly successful business man running a Hotel and Bed and Breakfast just outside Bendigo…
There is quite a disconnect between his weekend persona, and his everyday persona. (In this case, probably a good thing, as running a B&B dressed like 'Catman' could hurt the bottom line…). The challenge for me, and for us as Christians in all of this, is that quite often we look more like 'fans' of Jesus than 'followers'.
Fans or followers?Being a follower shapes our life every day of the week, not just on the weekend. Following Jesus affects Monday morning as much, or even more, than Sunday morning.
Being a follower means we trust the one we're following - and we trust all the time, not just when it suits us. I am so often tempted to try and 'fix things' with my own 'good' ideas, but I need to trust God in the midst of hard stuff a whole lot more.
Being a follower means being committed. We're in it for the long haul - not just when our team is winning. I am challenged to stay focussed on being a follower, especially when I don't feel like it.
Being a follower means submitting to the one we're following. Jesus models a way of life which leads to life in all it's fullness - in this life and in the age to come. But it's his way of life - it's not all about me!
Being a follower means making choices WITH the one we're following. Even as Christians we make many significant decisions without really stopping and taking time to seek God's will. Significant decisions about career, marriage, money, houses, and significant decisions about how we spend our precious time day by day. The choices we make totally affect the course of our lives - the challenge is to seek God's guidance AND then follow it!
As we get more into the swing of being a follower, and not just a fan, it becomes more and more natural to say to our friends and family, "Come and see." "Live like this." "Follow Jesus if you really want something worth living for." It's kind of weird to say this when we just fans sitting on the sidelines.
So there we go - a few thoughts on following Jesus. It's definitely way easier and more fun doing this with other people who are also up for following Jesus too. Within Barney's and The Imagine Network we're working to develop and grow communities of Jesus followers who encourage each other to be followers, not just fans.
What do you think? Are you a fan or a follower? What's the difference?