How good of a follower are you?
· by follower I don’t mean social media “follower”…which is more like a fan or an observer
· by follower I mean: A follower is one who is responsive to the authority and direction of another.
· In pother words - How well do you respond to authority?
If you are like a growing number of Americans then the answer is not well. Americans as a whole are terrible followers.
I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. David Brooks, NY Times
Brooks suggested some reasons why:
“Authority is suspect and each individual is king” - We question authority (include image here)
“More people are cynical and like to pretend that they are better than everything else around them”
“We find it easier to assign moral status to victims of power than to those who wield power”
This lack of followership has profound implications in the effectiveness of government, education, and just about anything that requires human cooperation.
Leadership is completely ineffective without good followership.
And, nowhere is good followership more important than in the Mission of God!
· The mission of God is absolutely dependent on individual human beings becoming excellent followers.
· God’s purposes in this world will never be accomplished without people like you and me determining to follow Jesus.
And this is a real problem. Because most of the people in this country who claim to follow Jesus are doing anything but.
· We might intellectually believe in him…We might be fond of him…we might be big fans of Jesus…and we might even make a few attempts at living up to some of his teachings
…but follow him in the way he intends to be followed – no way. As a whole we stink at following Jesus.
Let me illustrate - A picture of American Faith: (From Barna, 7 Faith Tribes)
66% Casual Christians
14% Committed Followers of Jesus
<2% Eastern Religions
The majority (not just of Christians but of Americans are poor followers of Christ). Here is how they describe themselves…
Attributes of Casual Christians (the majority of Americans):
· Comfortable with themselves and their spirituality
· Morally ambiguous
· Ideologically open minded
· Little passion to represent God
· Little desire to invest in a faith community
· Happy to attend a church but won’t attach deeply.
· Spiritual lives not much of a priority
· Christianity is a comfortable safety net
· Believe religion is a private matter
Bottom line – > 6 out of 10 Americans are lousy followers of Jesus. < 2 out of 10 are making significant efforts to advance the mission of God.
In which group do you fit? Are you a great follower of Jesus or just a fan?
Let’s see where you fit today...in the next 20 minutes you’ll know whether you are a great follower of Jesus or not.
Mark 1 and Luke 5
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. Mark 1:16-20
1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5 Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11
Review: Jesus moved north into Galilee…spends time re-clarifying his mission…encountering significant trouble…re-calling his disciples who had returned to their professions.
In these two passages we get a pretty good picture of what great followership of Jesus looks like as these guys jump in with both feet.
What a great follower of Jesus looks like…
A great follower of Jesus is quick to respond to his desires
Mark1:18 At once they left their nets and followed him (Simon and Andrew)
Mark 1:20 Without delay he called them (James and John)
· the speed of their response is most remarkable
· it indicates a little bit of recklessness on their part
Luke 5:5 …we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so,
· not only reckless but a little bit of foolhardiness
· they were willing to do something that was ridiculous even though they were worn out.
Now let me ask…when was the last time you did something a tad reckless or foolhardy in response to Jesus?
Wouldn’t you admit that most of the time you are calculated and safe?
· I’m thankful that there are people like Sunil Sardar, Irena Vengelovska, and Joe White who have demonstrated followership in their reckless, foolhardy response to Jesus. We have much to learn from people like them.
A great follower of Jesus will reprioritize their life when necessary
Mark 1:20 they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men
Luke 5:11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him
o Great followers of Jesus have a “drop everything and go” mentality
o Part of following Jesus means leaving substantial portions of their previous life behind … they left “boats on the shore”
Now let’s be honest…very few of you will leave it all…and you shouldn’t!! But c’mon…have you left ANY boats on the shore to follow Jesus?
What % of your life have you re-prioritized to follow him? Is there even one thing that has changed in your life due to your following him?
A great follower of Jesus will do what Jesus does
· they will mimic his efforts in advancing the mission of God
· in particular they will fish for human beings – they will try to catch other humans on behalf of the Kingdom.
Mark 1:17 I will make you fishers of men.
Luke 5:10 from now on you will catch men.
Fishing for human beings…drawing them into the Kingdom…saving them…redeeming them…this is what Jesus did all the time.
· Nicodemus, woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus, Woman at the well…are just a few of his catch.
And his expectation is that his followers will carry on in his footsteps.
But let’s be honest this is dicey stuff. Because if you are going to fish for men…
1. You have to believe that they need to be caught (that they are lost, un-reconciled with God, un-forgiven, not in any way discovering who God made them to be)
2. You have to have the guts to go after them. (which takes time, courage and risk)
You will never be a truly great follower of Jesus until you make part of your life ambition to become a “fisher of men”…to seek lost an un-reconciled people in the name of Jesus.
So…a great follower of Jesus is quick to respond to him, will re-prioritize their lives and will do what he is doing in the world.
But…where do you get the motivation to be that focused and reckless?
What motivates a great follower of Jesus?
A great follower of Jesus is a little bit afraid of him.
Luke 5: 9 Simon and all his companions were astonished (stupefaction had seized them) at the catch of fish they had taken…Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid…
o they were frozen in fear
o their fear was a form of exceeding reverence
Great followers of Jesus have a healthy respect for Him and fear of his power.
A great follower of Jesus is humbly aware of their sin and inadequacies.
Luke 5:8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
So…here is the true motivation that transformed cautious, self-centered young men and women into reckless, radicals who eventually fearlessly went after other human beings on behalf of Jesus.
They were dumbstruck with his power and humbly repentant of the insipid lives they had been living.
That’s what it takes at the core of who we are to transform from fans of Jesus to followers of Jesus.
A great follower of Jesus is a humble, nimble, passionate ambassador of Christ ready to drop everything in order to “reel in” those far from God.
Now where do you stand in relationship to that ideal?
What kind of follower of Jesus are you?
How quickly do you respond when you sense Jesus is asking you to do something?
What percentage of your life has been re-prioritized to be in line with the call of God?
What things have you done for Jesus that might be labeled reckless of foolhardy?
When was the last time you discussed faith with someone who does not follow Jesus?
What is it about Jesus, if anything, which makes you a little afraid?
How self-conscious are you around Jesus?
Would you say you are a fan of Jesus or a follower of His? Neither?
What do you suppose you need to do if your desire is to become a great follower of Jesus?