Christ United Presbyterian Church
Are you a fan or a follower?
Like many churches these days, Christ United Presbyterian has a Facebook page, as well as a separate page for our free weekly community meal, Esther's Kitchen. Facebook has become a simple, free way to reach out to our digitally connected members and friends. I have a personal page to stay connected to my far-flung family and friends, as well as friends near by. On Facebook, being a fan or a friend does not cost you anything, not even much time (especially once you learn how to hide all the game applications - I don't collect farm animals nor other virtual objects) In virtual life and in real life, I appreciate having fans and friends - the more the merrier! But I know there is a big difference between being a fan and being a follower.
Jesus had a lot of fans on Palm Sunday. Cheering people came to line the streets. People who were curious, interested in the sideshow, along for the ride, up for a parade. If he had a Facebook page, I'm sure Jesus would have millions of fans, when all that takes is the click of a button. When the going gets tough - when something more than passive observation is essential - fans disappear or "unfriend."
Sren Kierkegaard wrote: "It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression 'follower.' He never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents [or fans]. No, he calls disciples. It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for. His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers."
Are we fans or followers? Do we mostly claim the name of Christ when it is easy, advantageous or when we want to win a fight? Too often I find we act more like "spiritual consumers," shopping for a better spiritual bargain, comfort or reassurance that demands nothing or maybe just better-quality spiritual entertainment. Instead, Jesus calls us to take up our own cross and follow the challenging and world changing Way of God.
On Palm Sunday, you may hear part of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the young church in Philippi. The Message translation says it this way
" If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care- then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death."
Fans are fine for Facebook. But if you claim to be Christian, Jesus calls us to commit our lives as faithful humble followers, not 'what's in it for me?" fans. This Holy Week and beyond, may we who are Christians think of ourselves the way Jesus did. In our lives, may we show the grace and peace which comes from following Jesus who is our Lord and Savior.