Fans and Followers

Tim Tebow is playing baseball in my city.

That was the sign I needed to finally take up an interest in the sport.

I skipped church to go to the Fireflies’ opening day, and convinced two friends from my small group to come with me. Surely this would be a perfect opportunity to meet this highly eligible Christian bachelor. How hard could it be?

Since it was on a Sunday (Meet the Players Day), we would possibly have a chance to meet Tebow after the game. That was the first mission of the afternoon. The second was to get there as part of the first 500 for a free hot dog and drink.

Our second mission was successfully accomplished – I got the golden food ticket. As I was celebrating that victory, I began to realize I had some major competition for completing my first and most important mission.

There are fans, and there are fans … and the latter showed up in full force for Tebow. It appeared that 98 percent of my city’s single women received the same revelation I did about the importance of baseball.

Florida jerseys, Fireflies jerseys, signs, posters and even footballs were everywhere. These people came ready to meet Tebow and brought things for him to sign. I had a feeling the line to meet him would end up longer than the one to get into the stadium.

Indeed, it turned out people were willing to wait in a very long line to meet him; however, I absolutely hate standing in long lines, and that does not change even if Tim Tebow is at the other end. So while I got my free hot dog, I was not able to get anywhere near him that day.

Fanatics

If you have ever been in the proximity of a Tebow (any celebrity), you know firsthand how utterly fascinated people are with the object of their fandom.

Scripture tells us people were drawn to Jesus, too. This Jewish carpenter had celebrity status:

And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. Mark 5:24

Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan. Matthew 4:25

A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick. John 6:2

Wherever Jesus went, crowds of the curious, hurting, prideful and humble followed Him. When I think of Jesus’ ministry, I forget He had such a significant following. He wasn’t just some sidewalk prophet struggling for an audience. Thousands of people wanted to be near Him and hear Him speak. News of His healing and teachings likely attracted them to Him. Jesus wasn’t impressed with the numbers, though; in fact, the Gospels record one account where it seems like He was trying to whittle down the crowd.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters — yes, even their own life — such a person cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:25-26

Say what, now? Some people in the crowd were getting uncomfortable. They came hoping to see a supernatural healing or something, and He starts talking about being His disciple. Didn’t you get the memo, Jesus? I just wanted to follow You and wait for You to do something cool. I’m not interested in that “hating my own life” bit.

If I were in that crowd, I am sure that statement would have left me bug-eyed and my mouth hanging open.

Follow Me

Jesus calls for followers, not fans.

If I’m honest, I confess that I can act more like a fan than a follower of Christ. I would be a devout fan, willing to stand in a long line for Him (even longer than Tim Tebow’s), but a fan nonetheless. I know the biblical accounts of Jesus, I can recite the books of the Bible and I can relate how Old Testament prophecy points to Him. None of that is bad or in vain, but all that knowledge is useless if I’m not willing to give up everything to actually follow Him.

It is much more difficult to be a follower than a fan. It’s difficult because I have to take my desires, preconceived notions and everything I’m convinced is right, and submit it to His truth — like laying down my desire for marriage or the perfect job or my idea of the perfect life. The good news is that He knows we can’t do this on our own. He offers help, grace and guidance to His faltering children.

Friends, lets strive to be followers of Christ, not just fans, by being willing to go where He leads.

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