The other night my husband and I went to Nationals Park to see the St. Louis Cardinals play the Washington Nationals. My husband has been an avid Cardinals fan since childhood, and after meeting him 37 years ago, I have become one as well. (I think this was a precondition of our marriage!) The game was close—3 to 2 in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Cardinals were ahead. As I was looking around before the Nats took the field, I noticed people leaving—not just one or two, but a significant number. “Why did they even bother coming to the game,” I asked my husband. One minute they were wildly cheering, and the next it became more important to beat traffic out of the stadium or get to bed at a reasonable hour. Before anyone gets defensive, I should say this is not an indictment of only Nats fans, but I have seen this at all sorts of games throughout my life. Sadly, fans are fickle! (My husband excluded, of course) They warm the seats until it becomes inconvenient, or their team begins to lose.
Perhaps, this is why Jesus came to make followers, not fans. I am not the first to use this analogy. (In fact, there is a book and study that pursues this very theme.) But never before was the application more apparent to me than that night. Who would want fickle fans?
When Jesus first called His disciples, He gave the simple instruction, “Follow Me” (Mark 1:17; 2:14; John 1:43). After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter with the same commission. Twice, He said, “Follow Me” (John 21:19, 22). He did not say, “admire Me,” “watch Me,” or “be my fan.” He asked Peter to follow, and stay to the end of the game, no matter the score. A disciple is a follower, one who is on the move, faithfully doing what the teacher did and taught.
But we can only follow if we remain close and we keep our eyes on Jesus. Following necessarily implies a close and intimate relationship. Following also requires that we do what we don’t always want to do. Jesus, the night before He was crucified, washed the feet of the disciples (a task usually performed by servants). He even washed the feet of Judas, whom He knew would shortly betray Him.
“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13:12-15)
There was a time that I was merely a fan. I admired Jesus’ teachings, and even tried to apply some of them to my life. But I was fickle. When it became inconvenient to do what He did or said, I found someone else’s doctrine to live by—usually, my own. Following is costly and sacrificial. Who really wants to touch another’s feet, let alone wash them? But what are the blessings of being a follower of Jesus, the Son of God?
Perhaps the most incredible reason for following is—the more we follow, the more we become like Christ! (My husband has been a fan of the Cardinals for over 50 years but that does not enable him to put on a uniform and play the game.) Jesus calls us to follow so that we don’t just become a better version of ourselves—rather, we become a new creation altogether. A fan does not have the ability to do that. A follower of Christ does.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Note: There are many more blessings! They include:
Eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; Romans 6:23; 1 John 5:11-13).
Forgiveness of sin (Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7; 4:32).
Reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Romans 5:8-11).
Justification— being declared righteous (Romans 5:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
No condemnation by God (Romans 8:1, 33-34; 5:16).
Spiritual refreshment (John 7:37-39; Acts 3:19; Matthew 11:28).
Victory (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The grace of God (Ephesians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2:1).
The love of God (Romans 8:39; 1 John 3:1-2; 4:9-10, 16).
The love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 3:19).
Spiritual security (John 10:27-28; Romans 8:37-39).
Deliverance from darkness (Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18).
Light from God (John 1:4; 3:21; 8:12; 1 John 1:5-7).
Death to sin (Romans 6:1-11; 1 Peter 2:24).
Resurrection to life (Colossians 2:12-13; Romans 6:3-11).
The Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 3:14; 4:6).
Fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 1:3).
Inheritance in heaven (Ephesians 1:11, 14; Romans 8:17).
Adoption into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:14-17).
Spiritual birth (1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 5:1).
Promise of glorification (Romans 8:17-18; Colossians 3:4).
Access to God in prayer (John 16:23-24; Ephesians 2:18).
Answer to anxiety (John 14:1; Philippians 4:6-7).
Becoming a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10).
Fruitfulness (John 15:4-8; Philippians 1:11; Colossians 1:10).
Eternal riches (Ephesians 2:7; cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9).
Spiritual power and strength (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3:16).
Fellowship with other believers (1 John 1:7; Romans 12:4-5).
Rescue from God’s future wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).
Joy (John 15:11; 17:13; 1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:4).
Hope (Colossians 1:27; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 2:13).
Peace with God (Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:20).
Peace of God (John 14:27; 16:33; Philippians 4:7).
God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24-25, 30; Ephesians 1:17).
God’s truth (John 14:6; Ephesians 4:21).
Resurrection from the dead (John 5:28-29; 6:39, 40; 11:25).
Home in heaven (John 14:1-3; Philippians 3:20-21).
Residency in the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13; 2 Peter 1:11).
Heir to the promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Peter 1:4).
Cleansing from sin (1 John 1:7).
Christ’s presence forever (Matthew 28:20).
Knowledge of God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
Knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:10; 2 Peter 1:8).
Deliverance from the world (Galatians 1:4; 2 Peter 1:4).
Protection from Satan (1 John 5:18; John 17:12).
Protection from stumbling (Jude 24; cf. 1 Peter 1:5).
Deliverance from fear of death (Hebrews 2:15; John 11:25-26).
Christ’s intercession (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34).
Intercession of the Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).
Ability to overcome sin (Romans 6:14, 17-18, 22; 8:13).
Ability to do God’s will (Philippians 2:12-13; 4:13).
Our life and labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
We belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:23; Galatians 3:29; 5:24).
Spiritual power (Ephesians 3:20; Romans 15:13).
A place in Paradise (Revelation 2:7; 2 Corinthians 12:4).
Spiritual rest in Christ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30).
Future rest in heaven (Revelation 14:13; Hebrews 4:1, 11).
Mercy from God (Matthew 5:7; Jude 21).
Reward in heaven (Matthew 5:12; Revelation 22:12).
God’s Word speaks to us (John 12:48-49; 17:8; Hebrews 1:1-2).
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Also, my devotional book is now available as an audiobook, narrated by Connie Shabshab!