I am ashamed that I have not been more motivated to share what I have been learning lately and what God has been showing me. I’ve been so challenged by all that I’ve been learning, that I’ve sometimes become resistant and lazy, not wanting to change my attitude or lifestyle because it’s a lot of work and goes against the selfish desires I tend to have. After all, it’s easy to just live day-to-day, to do what is necessary and nothing beyond that. Sleep, eat, work, eat, relax, and sleep again. So finally I’m making an effort to get caught up.
Back in March I started reading a book called Not a Fan. After going through the Experiencing God study book with my boyfriend, its been a great follow up and challenge to what being a true Christian, a true follower of Christ should really look like.
The first thing I wrote down from this study was about the miracle Jesus performed of feeding the five thousand. For those of you who don’t know, Jesus took a boy’s lunch and miraculously fed over 5 thousand people with it, and still had leftovers.
And while that miracle was amazing, the study focused more on what happened after that, specifically as it is described in John 6. Take the time to read it if you can, but here’s a summed up version:
- Jesus feeds the five thousand
- Jesus and his disciples leave. The crowd later follows
- Most of the crowd followed because they wanted more free food
- Jesus instead tells them to pursue the bread of life, which does not spoil or leave you hungry.
- Jesus explains He is the Bread of Life
- The Pharisees don’t understand and many disciples choose to no longer follow Jesus.
When Jesus teaches the people about how he is the Bread of Life, he describes that this is the only way to eternal life, and unless one “eats [his] flesh and drinks [his] blood,” they will not receive eternal life or have any part in it (Jn. 6:53-54). But Jesus didn’t mean to actually eat his flesh and blood like a cannibal. He said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Jesus wasn’t being literal.
So what did he mean? Not A Fan focuses on the difference between a fan of Jesus and follower of Jesus. In this example from the Bible, the fan is the one who’s there for the free food. A fan is only a fan when it suits them, when it benefits them. We “like” and “follow” our favorite stores and brands so we can get the latest news, the newest products or the best coupons. We go to church every time the doors are open to make friends, learn how to feel good about ourselves, and portray a good reputation (I am guilty of this).
But when Jesus says to eat and drink of him, he means to share in the dirty work, in the sacrifice. That’s why so many disciples left him that day. They realized there wasn’t going to be any more free stuff without a cost. That truly following Him and having eternal life will require a sacrifice on their part; it would require effort. A fan only sticks around when things are good and when it’s convenient. A follower follows, no matter what, no matter where, no matter when.
A follower knows that salvation doesn’t stop at confession. It doesn’t stop at belief in God, His Son, and His Spirit. It doesn’t stop at baptism. That’s where it all begins. That’s the moment you step into eternal life. And every day after, you choose to stand behind Jesus, cross on your back, and follow him no matter what (Luke 9:23).
That’s what a follower does. And that’s what I fail to do most of the time. True story. And Jesus promises both reward and sacrifice. You can’t have eternal life without “eating [his] and drinking [his] blood,” without sharing in the grunt work. But the reward is eternal life and a relationship with Him that is more loving, more forgiving, and more fulfilling than anything else you can experience on this earth! It’s worth it!
Everything worth having comes at a cost. So if you consider yourself a follower of Christ, what has it cost you?