Fan or Follower?
When people ask my story, I tell them there were three stages: The moment I trusted Jesus as my savior, the moment I fell in love with Jesus, and the moment I decided to really surrender everything to Him. I want to tell you a little about the last two moments.
I believe the the third stage of my walk with Jesus could not have happened without the second stage. Before I could really surrender my life to Him, I had to fall in love with Him. After all, would you trust your life with someone you don't know and love?
In college, two things happened that propelled me into an intimate, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of relationship with Jesus. I gained an absolute thirst and love for the scriptures, and I gained invaluable Christian friendships. As I dove into God's Word, it came alive to me. The Bible is essentially God's love letter to us and each day I felt Him speaking such words of comfort and encouragement to me. Until this point, I had dabbled in the Bible, and I definitely believed in Jesus, but I wasn't in love with Him like this.
I also found an incredible group of Christian friends. These people really became a family to me, and it stirred my affections for Christ to worship and grow with them. I am a firm believer that we were not made to go through this life alone. We were created for community, and when I found a community to encourage me in my walk, I thrived.
This was a critical turning point in my life. Up to this time, I was perfectly content to attend my weekly church activities, read my bible, be a good "follower." There came a time, however, when it was clear that I could no longer live this Christian life with one foot in and one foot out. I knew God was asking me to be all in for Him. For so long, I had followed and pursued my own plans for my life without consulting my Lord at all. I had been a fan of Jesus, not a follower.
My fiancé is a BIG Alabama fan. We watch every game, and he knows every player. He knows their stats and about their lives outside football. And when Alabama loses… it is a very bad day. I bet he feels like he really knows some of those guys, but the truth is that he doesn't. He has never actually met them or spent time with them. He doesn't have a relationship with them. Too often, we are only fans of Jesus. We know a lot about him. We understand that He came and died on a cross for us, but it doesn't really affect much in our lives. Too often, we are affected more by our favorite team winning or losing than we are by the Good News of Christ.
This is the realization I had at this point in my life. I had always understood that Jesus came and died for me. I even knew that was significant, but I did not live my life like it had any effect on me. I was an admirer, but I wasn't committed to following Him. Luke 9:23 became an important verse to me then. Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." I could go through my life as an admirer and just surviving, or I could truly surrender all of myself to Christ. He gave it all for me, should I not respond to this gift by giving it all for Him?
What I experienced after this was such freedom. I cannot not even begin to express to you here the places God has brought me and the incredible things He's done when I allowed Him to write my story.
What our world needs is more people who are sold out to the mission of Jesus Christ. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told us our mission and our purpose: "Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." What if we really understood that everything we did can bring glory to God. Are there people in your work place that need the hope of Jesus? Do you have neighbors that you've never reached out to?
We must consider how we can live our lives in a way that looks different from this world. We must live in a way that exemplifies the love and grace of the gospel. Consider this week what small step you can take to begin daily taking up your cross. Consider introducing yourselves to your neighbors and building a relationship. Next time you're out to eat, ask your waiter if you can pray for them when you bless your meal. You'll be surprised how God can use these small steps of faith.
I leave you with these verses and this song. Remember today that you have a purpose that is greater than yourself. Let's pour out our lives for the one who deserves it.
"For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?" Luke 9:24-25
Posted on Wed, February 18, 2015
by Gabby Provenzano filed under