Peter and his fishing buddies were called to be followers of Jesus, but did they become followers?
Pastor Kyle Idleman in his book "Not A Fan", deals with the distinct differences between being a fan of Jesus and a follower of Jesus.
Here's an excerpt:
According to a recent survey, the percentage of Americans who claim to be Christian is somewhere north of 75 percent.
Really? Three out of four people are followers of Christ?
Let's see, if the population of the United States is about 311 million and 75 percent are Christians that brings the number of Christians to somewhere in the neighborhood of 233 million. That's a lot of Christians. I don't see nearly that many Jesus fish on car bumpers. I don't know, maybe all the Darwin fish ate them. I'm just saying something about that percentage is off. Because if there really are that many Christians, then why will some 35 million people in America go to bed hungry tonight, including 13 million children? If 75 percent of Americans are Christians, then how is it possible that 40 percent of the homeless are under the age of 18? Why are there more than 120,000 children waiting to be adopted? I could keep going, and that's just in the States. The numbers don't add up. Jesus said the evidence that someone is one of his followers is love. So 233 million? The evidence just isn't there.
What's the explanation for such a discrepancy? A number of years ago I read an article about the new vegetarians. These new vegetarians don't eat meat -- most of the time. One of them explained that she was a vegetarian, but she really liked bacon. A vegetarian, by definition, is someone who doesn't eat meat. Umm, yeah, but isn't bacon a meat? Is it really accurate for her to identify herself as a vegetarian? If enough people who eat meat started calling themselves vegetarians wouldn't that throw the numbers off? The discrepancy was solved by coming up with a new term to describe vegetarians who aren't committed to abstaining from meat. They now identify themselves as "Flexitarians."
A Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ. So, I'm thinking that what might help make sense of the 233 million number is a new word to describe people who identify themselves as Christians but have little interest in actually following the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps instead of "followers," it would be more accurate to call them "fans."
The word fan is most simply defined as, an enthusiastic admirer. And I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Some fans may even get dressed up for church on Sunday and make their ringtone a worship song. They like being associated with Jesus. Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them. They want a no-strings-attached relationship with Jesus. So a fan says, I like Jesus but don't ask me to serve the poor. I like Jesus, but I'm not going to give my money to people who are in need. I like Jesus, but don't ask me to forgive the person who hurt me. I like Jesus, but don't talk to me about money or sex that's off limits.
When Peter dropped his net and left the fishing business was he a follower or a fan?
If you answered "fan", at what point did he become a follower?
And while you're thinking about it, which are you?