Sunday we started a new, and frankly very tough series called Christian Atheist. This isn’t the first time we have done this series, and we aren’t the first church to do it. And the reason so many churches have done a series like this is because of the reality of the church today. In a world where values are ever changing, standing on truth is becoming harder and harder, both for the local church and for the individual Christian. Kyle Idleman addresses this trend in his book Not a Fan, using the terms “Fan” and “Follower” to describe the different types of people in the church today. Use whatever term you want, it all boils down to one truth: Far too many followers of Jesus are part-time followers.
I’m not the first author to write on this by any means. If you google the phrase “Part time Follower” there will be plenty of hits. Most of these articles and blogs will talk about the tendency to leave our faith at the door depending on our circumstances. As it turns out, this whole following Jesus thing is tougher than advertised. Even the disciples fled when the cost got too high. But to truly follow Christ means He has to become everything to us and we can only follow one thing at a time. God states “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). To truly follow Christ means we do not follow anything else. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” There is no such thing as a “halfway disciple.”
Our True(ish) statement this week had to do with going overboard in our faith, but the thing we have to realize is that there is no such thing as going overboard with Jesus. To truly follow Jesus Christ is ultimate surrender. It is, as Romans 12 says, offering our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is the only reasonable form of worship. It means that every one of our decisions and dreams and desires gets filtered through His Word. This is what it is to be a true follower.
And I’ll be the first to confess, as so many pastors have before me- I fail at this. Sometimes in my life and in some areas of my life, I am a part-time follower. I confess this to you in hopes that you will confess to yourself. Because within true confession, that is where we embrace conviction. And when we embrace conviction, that is where we can feel true regret for our sins. And when we actually regret breaking the heart of God, only then will we admit our need for His forgiveness. This is called “repentance,” and it it the only thing that will ever truly change you.
8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:8-10 NLT)
Part time followers are incapable of true and full repentance. It takes total surrender, total confession. And that’s something a part time follower simply cannot do. I don’t know what type of follower you are. I just know this: Far too many people are missing all God has for them because they stopped at part time. I pray that’s not you. God has more for you, but He wants all of you. Of course, that’s only fair, because He’s already given all of Himself for you.