“A scribe came up and said to [Jesus], 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.'"
Matthew 8:19-20 ESV
Hello Calvary and Friends,
It has been so sweet to spend time over the last few weeks pouring through everything I can put my hands on that records the work of God in Calvary Wolfeboro through the last 3+ years. Through what has been a combination of conversations, reading my own journals, and reading a few of my past sermons, I have found so much encouragement. I have also found renewed resolve. A resolve to continue to follow Christ wherever He leads. This is the only good option for a true follower. I was reminded of this as I was reading one teaching from the short series we did in 2014 called, "Being The Church." In one of thoseteachings I spent considerable time on the idea, from Luke 9:57-62, that being a Christian is about being a follower not a fan. As we continue our reboot this week and into the next two weeks, I think it would be good to consider the attributes of the fan of Jesus Christ. Not so that we can pick them out in the crowd and make a spectacle out of "them." Oh, no. The only reason it is really good for us during this season of rebooting is because, all of us, even if we have counted the cost and decided to become followers of Christ, have a little fan in us.
The Fan Is Fickle
Fickle defined: marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability: given to erratic changeableness.
I was a fair-weather fan when I was a kid. I didn’t even know who the Chicago Bulls were before Michael Jordan started playing for them in the late 80's and 90's. Suddenly,myself and millions of others became a fan of the Chicago Bulls. And part of the reason I was a fair-weather fan was because I wasn’t a local in Chicago... it wasn’t my team. That’s why you don’t find many fair-weather Red Sox fans around here. It doesn’t matter how bad the Red Sox are doing, you still see Red Sox hats everywhere. Not in Albuquerque or Denver, or Cincinnati... The Red Sox hats will come out in droves during a pennant-winning season, but they will conspicuously disappear during seasons like this one.
This was the heart of the man who came up to Jesus. “I will follow you wherever you go.” Yeah, of course, because Jesus is healing the sick, feeding the five-thousand, attracting the multitudes; He’s having a great season! But what about when the crowds leave? What about when the miracles cease? What about when following me means sleeping in a cave or on a cot? What about when following me means leaving everything you own? What about when following me means being mocked, ridiculed, or even beaten, stoned, or put in prison?
"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Luke 9:58
I can imagine a conversation that Jesus might have with a fickle fan today:
“Hi Mr. Fickle...What's that you say? You want to be my disciple? Excellent! Here’s the deal though. I came as a servant. I was born in a feeding trough. I grew up to live and die with no earthly possessions; I have no house, no donkey, no retirement plan, no espresso machine (wait, what!?). I came not to live the good life but to die on a cross. If you become my follower this may very well be your life too. Do you still want to follow me?" uncomfortable silence... “No? I didn't think so.”
Many people come to Jesus because they believe He will make their life easier, provide financial gain, give them an inside track. But when things start to get tough, when the cost of following Christ begins to rise, they suddenly walk away, disappear. This is the trait of the fickle. Beware of the fickle in you.
The Fan Is Finicky
To another person, Jesus said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60
Finicky Defined: extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards.
My wife knows something about me that many of you don't. For years I have driven her crazy with the way I am about food. Picky is a word that has been used by her and others to describe my tendency. But I never liked the work "picky" because it didn't quite fit. After all, I will eat almost anything. Picky people, I would say, don't eat a lot of things. So what am I? I'm finicky. I'm not proud of it and it's even a little hard to admit it, but I am "extremely and sometimes excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in my tastes and standards" regarding food. I can very easily be classified as a finicky eater. I will eat anything, and I will be grateful for anything but if I have any say in how something is prepared I am very particular. I like it a certain way, my way.
How often does the call of Jesus come at the cost of our predetermined “ways” that things should go?
"I’ll follow Jesus once I finish school...after I get a good job",
"I just need to take care of a few things in my life...I just need to get on my feet."
"I’ve got to take care of my family right now, I don’t have time for that, Jesus."
"Well, I think Jesus may be calling me to the mission field but I need to get my children through school first, then I will go."
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not equating serving in Calvary Wolfeboro with following Jesus. This is much more foundational than that. Serving in the local church is part of this picture but not the point. Put another way, what the finicky person or the finicky tendency in each of us falls prey to is the ever-present obstacle to moving further along in the plan that God has. There will always be reasons why you can’t follow Jesus wherever He wants to lead you. Some of those obstacles will be really easy to see as "good things." But if God has told us to move past them, then we must, or we are acting the fan. We will be guilty of being finicky.
The Fan Is A Fake
Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:61-62
The excuses always sound good. How could you ever argue with someone saying they need to say goodbye to their family? We might even counsel against leaving his family at all... Now I don’t believe that this could-be disciple was being asked by Jesus to leave his wife and children... Of course not. That would contradict Jesus’ clear teaching about marriage and the responsibility that God’s given to Husbands and Fathers. He’s asking him to leave his parents, extended family. This was not common in Jesus’ day like it is now... But that’s beside the point. Jesus knew that it was just an excuse. We wouldn’t be able to discern it, but Jesus could. The would-be disciple knew it too. He was a fake. He probably wanted everyone to see him go to this new Rabbi who had come on the scene and make a show of it. “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Why would he even say that? I'm sure that the other disciples were able to say good-bye to their families. And it’s not like they were getting on a plane to the other side of the globe. You see, there was more than meets the eye in this man's response. At least more than can be seen by the eye unaided by the supernatural omniscience of Jesus. He calls this fan out.
How often we play the fake. We pretend we're something that we're not. We act like followers of Jesus, even saying and doing the right things, but like the fake in Luke 9:61, we're really keeping one foot in the things that are clamoring to be infinitely more important to us that Jesus.
Never forget that we all have a little fickle, finicky, fake fan in us.
Every one of us has at least a little fan in us. We can be fickle, only serving God when it's easy or beneficial in some short-term way. We can be finicky, allowing unnecessary obstacles to interfere with obediently following Christ into His purposes for us. And we all sometimes play the fake, putting on a show at the right time in the right place to make it look like we're being a follower when we're not.
It's time to fight the fan in you. Paul called it the flesh. It's at war with the Spirit of God and is seeking to take you as a follower of Christ and render you impotent. For Satan, and the enemies of the Gospel, impotence is the best case scenario for the disciple of Jesus Christ.
For His Glory,