Over the next few days I want to share a few book reviews with you. I just finished the book Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus by Kyle Idleman and it is a book I highly recommend. This book can be summarized by a simple question, “are you a fan of Jesus or a follower of Jesus?” A fan is an enthusiastic admirer. A follower is so much more. This book asks some tough question and it really makes you think. Can you really call yourself a Christian if you don’t follow Jesus?
Not a Fan is similar in message to Crazy Love or Radical, but the tone of the book is very different. Idleman has a unique blend of seriousness with humor that keeps you engaged while reading. I literally found myself laughing at his references to pop culture. This is really a book that is hard to put down. I enjoyed the real life examples sprinkled throughout the book, and I kept highlighting passage after passage. The Kindle version is currently only $4.99, so that is the version I read.
The Not a Fan website has more information about small group studies, study guides, and sermon resources for churches. As a pastor, it’s tough not to read this and think about how it would be a great sermon series. I’ll have to think about it, but this is a study I definitely would like to take our entire church through. Here are a few quotes to let you know what the book is about.
- As I sat in the sanctuary surrounded by thousands of empty seats, here’s what became clear to me: it wasn’t the size of the crowd Jesus cared about; it was their level of commitment.
- I will talk more about repentance than forgiveness, more about surrender than salvation, more about brokenness than happiness, and more about death than about life. The truth is, if you are looking for a book about following Jesus that lays out a comfortable and reassuring path, you won’t find it here.
- My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums. And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him.
- Many have made a decision to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Jesus. The gospel allows for no such distinction.
- 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.
- There is no believing without following. There is no John 3:16 without Luke 9:23.
- Dying to yourself doesn’t make sense for the fan, but the follower understands that dying is the secret of really living. That’s why we sing about the wonderful cross. The cross that represented defeat—for a follower it is an image of victory. The cross that represented guilt—for a follower it is an image of grace. The cross that represented condemnation—for a follower it is an image of freedom. The cross represented pain and suffering—for a follower it is an image of healing and hope. The cross that represented death—for a follower it is an image of life. The cross may not be attractive, but for a follower it is beautiful.
- The most literal way to define a “Follower of Jesus” is “Someone who goes where Jesus goes.” I’m not sure how you can call yourself a follower of Jesus if you refuse to go where Jesus went. If you are following Jesus “wherever,” he will take you towards a sinner that others wouldn’t want to be seen with. You will find yourself among the sick that others tried to avoid. If you follow Jesus, expect to find yourself being criticized by some of the religious people in your life. If you follow Jesus you may find that your family thinks you’re crazy … his did. You may find yourself being unfairly accused and unjustly treated by those in political office. Ultimately if you follow Jesus “wherever,” you won’t just end up covered in his dust, you will end up covered in his blood.
Finally, I’ll let you hear from the author himself about the book and it’s message. Again, this is probably my favorite book of the past year, so if you don’t read much, this is one you don’t want to miss.