I was reading my book today Not a Fan. by Kyle Idleman & it really hit home for me. I’d really like to share some of it with you.
If you’re in sales or have ever been around a good salesperson then you know just what I mean. They emphasize all the positive things they think you’ll be glad to hear, and they quickly skip over what might be less appealing. Churches can be reluctant to shine a bright light on commitment in fear that it might hurt sales numbers.
Jesus doesn’t hold back with Nicodemus. Following Jesus would require a commitment that would cost Nicodemus a great deal. As we look at what it means to follow Jesus, this will become a theme. In fact, it’s true throughout all of Scripture. Moses couldn’t follow God without standing in front of Pharaoh. Noah couldn’t follow God without building an ark that would bring ridicule from his neighbors. Daniel couldn’t follow God by praying to Him alone without being thrown into a lions’ den. Following Jesus isn’t something you can do at night where no one notices. It’s a twenty-four-hour-a-day commitment that will interfere with your life. That’s not the small print – that’s a guarantee.
Have you ever been flipping through the channels late at night and come across an annoying infomercial telling you how to get rich quick? An obnoxious spokesperson is looking into the camera and asking questions like, Would you like to make more money? How would you like to only fly first class? Any interest in retiring early? How would you like to never worry about finances again? and then you’re asked, Does that sound like something you might be interested in? Then the Billy Mays wannabe goes on to explain that all this can be yours for free. You don’t even have to pay shipping and handling.
How do you respond to that? How can you say no? It costs you nothing and offers you everything. And I wonder if some well-intentioned preachers may have missed their calling as late-night infomercial salesman. Because many people heard a gospel presentation that went something like this: How would you like to live forever? Would you like to have your sins forgiven and have a fresh start? Do you want to spend eternity in paradise instead of burning hell? Some take it even further … Would you like to live a prosperous life? Are you ready to claim the health and wealth God has in store for you? Does that sound like something you might be interested in? And while some people rolled their eyes and changed the channel, a lot of fans signed up.
They ordered a gospel that cost them nothing and offered them everything.
So in case someone left it out or forgot to mention it when they explained what it meant to be a Christian, let me be clear: There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. there is no life without death. There is no believing without committing.
At the church where I am a pastor, someone sent an email asking to be removed from the church membership. The stated reason for leaving read as follows: I don’t like Kyle’s sermons.
That’s all it said. That begs for some kind of explanation, so I decided to call the person. I checked the name of the person and got the phone number. I wanted to confirm that it wasn’t my wife. That would have been awkward. I was driving in my car and called him on my cell phone. I would suggest that when making this type of call from your personal phone, first go to “settings” on your phone, then “show my caller ID” and then turn to “off”. Do not attempt while driving. When he answered I simply said, “Hey, this is Kyle Idleman. I understand you’re leaving the church because you don’t like my sermons.”
There was a brief silence. I caught him off guard jut as I had planned. It was awkward for a moment, and then he started talking – rambling really – trying to express what he meant. Somewhere in the middle of his lengthy explanation he said something. What he said was not meant to be encouraging, but his words caused me to breathe such a sigh of relief that tears came to my eyes. I pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed a pen, and wrote down what he said.
“Well, whenever I listen to one of the messages I feel like you are trying to interfere with my life.”
Yeah, umm, that’s kind of like my job description. But do you hear what he was saying? He’s saying – I believe in Jesus, I’m a big fan, but don’t ask me to follow. I don’t mind coming to church on the weekends. I’ll pray before meals. I’ll even slap a Jesus fish on my bumper. But I don’t want Jesus to interfere with my life. When Jesus defines the relationship he wants with us He makes it clear that being a fan who believes without making any real commitment to follow isn’t an option.
& it goes on to talk about Nicodemus & how he started to truly follow Jesus.
The last line of this chapter says “If you believed in darkness, Jesus now invites you to follow Him in the light.”
I hope you read the whole thing through, gives you something to REALLY think about.