Fan or Follower???? Years ago, through a series of events and people, starting with my parents’ influence, I decided to invite Jesus into my heart. It was a simple acknowledging that I believed in my heart and mind that Jesus was real and that I was in need of His help over my “sin!” At age nine I had a heart that was sorry for my sin. It was at home where I made that decision. I prayed and then shared the decision with my mom. Upon doing that, she had our pastor come and talk to me about my decision. After our conversation about what I believed and the series of events that led up to my decision, he encouraged me to make a “public confession” of my faith.
I can remember getting dressed on Sunday morning knowing that at the end of the sermon I was going to move out of the pew and walk forward when the invitation was extended. In the church where I grew up, after an hour of worship (music and sermon), there would always be an invitation to come forward and acknowledge that you wanted to “invite” Jesus into your heart. Or, if you were already a Christian, you could go forward and recommit your life to Christ. For Christians, we all can take a wrong turn. In the church I grew up in there was always a welcoming to publicly walk forward and proclaim a recommitment, if you felt like you had “strayed from your walk of faith and commitment to Jesus.”
For me that morning, I was letting everyone know I had invited Jesus into my heart. I was scared to death!!!! Seriously, at 9 years old I had never done anything in front of a group, much less a church full of people. I can remember the sermon coming to a close and feeling real shaky and scared to just simply walk down an aisle in front of EVERYONE! My stomach was inside out and my legs trembled. It is one of my best memories growing up, receiving the COURAGE from God to take that step!!!! It is one of the first memories I have of God SHOWING UP AND SHOWING OUT in my life. Other people didn’t really feel or see this but I knew that I knew that I knew that it was God moving me in my heart to “PUBLICLY LOVE HIM more than I cared about my FEAR of people”. I will always be grateful to the church I grew up in and the denomination that really encouraged people who invited Jesus into their heart……to take that COURAGEOUS WALK OF FAITH PUBLICLY!
I can truly say it was in that moment that I became a follower of Jesus and not just a fan! I can look back on that time of casting fear down and taking Jesus by the hand and trusting HIM, instead of myself. That one action of walking down that aisle has propelled me in life in so many areas. To NOT BE AFRAID to step out in my life when I have felt that same PROMPTING by God to walk, to step out, even when I was scared!
On the BACK 9, I can recount that same COURAGE FROM GOD WHEN I: competed for cheerleader in high school and college; competed in clogging competitions; shared my testimony countless times in front of audiences of up to 10,000 people; walked on a stage in Miss America and competed on National Television the final night; filmed the first TV show called “Kid Sizzle” when I was 24; stood in front of a camera filming a Pilot TV program in Hollywood called “Dream Girls”. Taking that step of FAITH at 9, to get out of the boat and put my eyes on Jesus and hold His “hand, which was invisible to the eye” but feeling its grip nonetheless, to follow HIM has allowed God to DEMONSTRATE HIS PROVISION COUNTLESS TIMES IN MY LIFE.
I love the story of Nicodemus in the Bible in John chapter 3. He had all the HEAD knowledge about who God was but he was only a fan with head knowledge. Nicodemus was a leader of the Jews. He decided to go to Jesus at night. To go and see Jesus during the day meant risking his reputation and much, much more. So he went at night. Upon seeing Jesus and talking with Him, Jesus told Nicodemus that to know HIM and accept Him, He had to be “born again”. This is also the chapter where John 3:16 is found. Jesus first spoke John 3:16 to Nicodemus……. It doesn’t say for sure, but this is the night I think Nicodemus went from being a fan of Jesus to a “follower!!!!”
Later in Scripture it tells of Nicodemus’ peers plotting to silence Jesus. Jesus had become very popular and had a great following. The Sanhedrin, a religious group, wanted to judge Jesus as a false prophet. Nicodemus stood up for Jesus by saying in John 7:51, “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” I believe at this point Nicodemus had the same “GOD-given COURAGE” I was given at 9. He was now a follower and not a fan. Willing to step out and step up with God-Given Courage. We later see evidence of Nicodemus’ love and courage when most of Jesus’ followers were in hiding after his crucifixion. Nicodemus shows up at Jesus’ burial and brings a “mixture of myrrh and aloes, about 75 pounds.” (John 19) Make no mistake, this was a very costly gift in those days and it was A VERY PUBLIC ACTION ON NICODEMUS’ part. Showing his love and devotion to Jesus.
Fan or FOLLOWER? There is a big difference! In being a fan, you can agree and know who Jesus is. You can read the Bible and go to church on Sunday with the crowd and look like many others………. BEING A FOLLOWER requires COURAGE and COST! Being a FOLLOWER OF JESUS requires more than just belief. It requires DOING THINGS THAT REQUIRE YOU TO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING THE END. TO TAKE STEPS THAT MIGHT NOT ONLY COST YOU MONEY, BUT TIME AND REPUTATION. It requires denying SELF AND FOLLOWING JESUS.