Skip to main content

admirer or follower?

Steven James in Story shares this quote from Soren Kierkegaard, an existential philosopher:

The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains, no matter where you are. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires.

Am I really a follower or Jesus, or am I just an admirer?

James goes on to write...

We prefer dragging our nets onshore with us so we can have the best of both worlds. But of course that never works - you can't follow Jesus while you're dragging your old life along behind you. If you try to, you'll end up losing out on both. Every once in a while I get caught doing it - trying to pursue both what Jesus has to offer and what the world has to offer. But it's useless because they lie in opposite directions.

James writes this on sharing our faith...

Jesus approached evangelism quite differently than most churches today. Too many twenty-first century churches treat sharing Jesus's story like a marketing campaign. They try to make Christianity seem as appealing, plausible, relevant, and easy to digest as possible by emphasizing the benefits of belief. But Jesus almost never did that. Typically he emphasized the cost of following him, not the rewards. Here's what he hold the crowds who had started following him: "Simply put, if you're not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can't be my disciple. (Luke 14:33 Message)

There's no fine print in Jesus's call to discipleship. "This is what it's gonna cost you," he says. "Everything. Family relationships, possessions, dreams, comfort, time - you can't be my follower unless you give up everything. You have to leave your nets behind. So what do you say? Will you follow me, or just keep admiring me?"

On Sunday night, we invited our teens to leave a mistake they've made at the cross. It's amazing to see God working in their hearts as they consider what it means to be more than an admirer of Christ. And in middle school and high school, being a follower of Christ isn't easy. These teens are incredible.


RyanD said…
Wow. That's a great question: "Am I an admirer or a follower?" Thanks for asking me that today. This post makes me wonder, as church leaders, how often do we challenge the flock to go without? We very much try to cram more in, but what about encouraging members to sacrifice? I don't see that happening quite as much.
jenny said…
It goes against everything in our culture to give up, sacrifice and live simply. It creeps in at every turn.

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…