The congregation I serve is getting ready to start the series “not a fan.” I’m super-pumped to do this; I haven’t been this excited about something in quite a long time. I truly believe that God is calling us into this series – and this isn’t a very “light, fluffy, and happy” sermon/small group series.
The main question of the series is this: Are you a fan of Jesus or just a follower? Am I one of millions of “fans” cheering in a stadium once a week? Am I someone who has truly given up everything to follow Jesus? The Gospel makes clear that you can’t follow Jesus on your terms; it’s His way or no way at all. King Jesus makes it clear that it is an all or nothing kind of life. I can’t go to church on Sunday and then Monday-Saturday live however I want; but when I look into my heart and examine my life…that’s exactly what I’m doing.
This is my confession. I am a recovering Pharisee. I’m a recuperating religious nut. I have played the game long enough. I have looked the part, played the part on stage, and tried to keep all the rules; and truly, honestly…I’m tired. I’m weary. I’m sick of religion. I just want Jesus. However, I have to be honest…I haven’t been satisfied by just Jesus.
As I was reading the Gospel of John a few weeks ago this slammed me so hard. Jesus was speaking to this huge crowd who had followed Him for a few days. He fed thousands of them with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish. Their bellies were filled. They were happy. That night the 12 (soon-to-be apostles) get in the boat to cross the lake. Jesus says, “I’ll be along later.” So they go through this epic experience where in the middle of the night Jesus comes to them walking on the water. They were blown away…and it says once Jesus got in the boat and they “immediately reached the shore where they were heading.” Crazy, right?
So the morning comes and we read that all these people from the night before had walked all the way around the lake and found Jesus. Honestly, they liked the guy. He fed them. He encouraged them. He taught with authority. He made them feel good. He taught stuff that made them feel warm and fuzzy…but this time; this huge crowd wasn’t going to be pleased.
“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6: 26-27, NIV)
Ouch! They were only following him because he fed them. They really weren’t interested in what He said, they didn’t really care. Sure, it sounded good in theory, but it was way cooler to watch Him thousands with only enough for three people. Jesus begins to teach about how He was the bread from heaven. He was all the people would ever need. That if they wanted to be satisfied they need only turn to Him. He concludes His teaching with this statement:
“Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58, NIV)
I can feel your eyebrows raise as you read this. It’s a tough saying; Jesus says that if you aren’t willing to give it all and trust in His bread (Him) than you will have no life in you. That means you can’t get to heaven. That means you will die in your sins. That means that you are severed from the Hands of Creation. Right after this, the text shares something incredibly sad, but so true to our human character:
“On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.” (John 6:60-66, NIV)
That same question is asked of us when we’re faced with the toughest, most heart-wrenching decisions that Jesus puts forth. This isn’t some mushy or happy thing…this is as real as it gets. Jesus turns to us as He did to them and asks, are you all-in?
Thousands reduced to twelve in a single statement. Hundreds of hearts cut to the bedrock to expose their hardness. Thousands of people walking away from God Himself because they answered honestly, “You are not enough, Jesus.”
I must confess that I haven’t been “all-in” for quite some time. However, the Spirit of God is awakening something inside of me that is passionate and relentless. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines anymore…I will not be “an enthusiastic admirer” of Jesus anymore – I will be a follower. The trouble is…I have to answer the question: Scott, is Jesus really enough for you? Are your truly satisfied with Him? The answer I found in my heart was that I haven’t been.
I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and my money. I’ve been happy with Jesus and my religious life. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and my theological positions. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and my political beliefs. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and what people thought about me. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and my social status. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and my X-Box 360. I’ve been satisfied with Jesus and the American Dream. However, as look into this, as I pray about it…that isn’t enough. It will never be enough. I’m not offering Jesus total control of my life. I’m not offering Jesus complete surrender to His Lordship in His Kingdom on His terms. I’ve tried to add to Jesus…and for that I am so terribly sorry.
I want to be satisfied with just Jesus. I want to be all-in. I believe Jesus. Please help my unbelief.
From this day forward, I am going to do everything I can to be completely all in. I want my wife, my family, my church family to know that I am a follower of Jesus, but not because I look good on the outside all the while falling apart inside. I want to be all in because I lay down my idols at the feet of Jesus, because it will COST me EVERYTHING. I just want to follow…and I begin now.
My name is Scott and I am not a fan.