Happy, Happy Tuesday to us all! God is so good! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life goes on…and so does our quest for diagnosing fandom. If this is your first time joining us, please note we are in Chapter 3 of Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman doing a little study on the fans and followers of Jesus Christ. Please click on the series tab above to lead you to earlier posts in this series if you would like to catch up.
The question of the day: Do you know about Jesus or do you really know Jesus?
Kyle starts out Chapter 3 with a story about one of his friends who was a famous soap opera star. This famous actor invited Kyle to have a gospel hour at a General Hospital “fan day.” Kyle was able to hear the end of the session right before him, which was a trivia game of sorts on who knew the most about Kyle’s famous friend. Kyle was amazed that all these strangers seemed to know more about Kyle’s friend than Kyle did. They knew what city he was born in, his favorite color, his allergies, the names and ages of his children, and on and on. But as Kyle was thinking on it, these people didn’t truly know Kyle’s friend; they just knew about him. They knew facts, statistics, and stuff, but they didn’t know who Kyle’s friend was as person, didn’t know his personal story, didn’t know his heart.
It is not hard to see where Kyle’s going with this. This is not much different from many in the church (inside or outside). We can name all the books of the Bible, spout scripture at the drop of a hat, tell you the Christmas and Easter stories without even thinking. But does that mean we personally know Jesus. As I recall, there were some people like this in Jesus’ time too. They were known as the Pharisees.
Matthew 15:8-9: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”
“That description seems to fit most fans I know. Like the Pharisees, many fans have given their minds to the study of God, by they never surrendered their hearts. These were men who had plenty of knowledge about God, but they didn’t really know God. This is what often separates the fans from the followers. It’s the difference between knowledge and intimacy.” (p.42)
Luke 7:36-48 (NLT):
36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat.[h]37 When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. 38 Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them.
39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”
40 Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.”
“Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied.
41 Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver[i] to one and 50 pieces to the other. 42 But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?”
43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.”
“That’s right,” Jesus said. 44 Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume.
47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
From this passage we can see that Jesus has been invited over to dinner by one the Pharisees, Simon. It was likely after Jesus had finished preaching and would have been something of religious status to have the visiting rabbi over to dinner. However, Jesus was not treated like the guest of honor as he should have been. It was customary to greet a guest with a kiss (the placement depending on the status of guest), the offering of water and such to wash ones feet, and even possibly anointing oil for the guest’s head. We see none of those things being down here. Not by Simon. Not by his servants.
“Don’t miss the irony of this moment. Simon has spent his life studying the Scriptures. By the time he was 12 he had the first 12 books of the Bible memorized. By the time he was 15 he had memorized the entire prophecies about the coming Messiah who now sits at his table with a hand that hasn’t been kissed, feet that haven’t been washed, and a head that hasn’t been anointed. He knew all about Jesus, but he didn’t know Jesus.
Fans have a tendency to confuse their knowledge for intimacy. They don’t recognize the difference between knowing about Jesus and truly knowing Jesus. In church we’ve often got this confused. We have established systems of learning that result in knowledge, but not necessarily intimacy. (pp.43-44)
Now, Kyle is not saying that studying and growing in God’s word is wrong. No, he is saying that knowledge and facts are not enough on their own; we must have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I included this next part because I love Kyle’s honesty and sense of humor. I literally “laughed out loud” while reading this next section.
“Like the Pharisee in Luke 7, and like many fans today, I spent a number of years confusing my knowledge about Jesus for intimacy with Jesus. For example, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had the books of the Bible memorized in order-all 66 of them. Not only that, I can actually say the books of the Bible in one breath. Don’ t try to act like you’re not impressed. So here’s the books of the Bible. I know it is not quite the same, but if you hold your breath and read them out load without taking a breath, you might get a sense of what a spiritual accomplishment that really is:
Take a deep breath. Here we go:
Did you make it? The truth is that Jesus doesn’t care that I can do that. He’s not impressed with my knowledge or talent. Admittedly, I kind of wish he was. I think it would be great if that’s what it came down to on Judgment Day. Jesus gets us all together and he says, ‘Okay, here is how it’s gonna go. All of you who can say the books of the Bible in one breath, just step over on this side. And if you can’t do that-I’ll give you two tries-but if you can’t do that, just go on down the steps there. And when you think you’ve gone too far, keep going.’ I’m pretty certain that is not how it’s going to play out, though I’m hoping it gets me an upgrade. But the truth is, for a long time I considered myself a follower because of what I knew……If you would have confronted me on being just a fan of Jesus and not a completely committed follower I would have defended myself by trying to challenge you to a “sword drill.” That’s where you see who can turn to a Scripture reference the fastest. I would point to my impressive record whenever I competed in a “quote off.” A “quote off” is similar to a “dance off” except you quote bible verses. As I grew older I would have pointed to the religious traditions I followed and moral code I observed as evidence that I was a follower of Jesus. I would have filled you in on the fact that I don’t drink. I would have let your know that I’ve never said a cuss word, at least loud enough to be heard. In fact, my friends and I were such committed followers, we made up Christian cuss words.
If you really pushed me I would have had to break out the Spiritual leadership Award I won at Christian basketball camp. I may have pulled out the ribbon I won for getting runner-up for camper of the week at church camp. I would have also explained that I got ripped off because the kid who got first place was the son of the dean of the camp, or, as I like to call him, a cheating S.O.D. Instead of describing a relationship where I truly knew Jesus, I would have told you what I knew about Jesus. But when there is knowledge without intimacy you are really no more than a fan. (pp. 45-46)
Before I read Kyle’s book, I would have answered the same as the young Kyle. I would have given you a list of all the things I gave up for Jesus. I would have told you about the sacrifices I made. I could have even given you a copy of my rules and regulation handbook (jk). I would have never even thought to tell you I am a follower of Jesus Christ because Jesus is my best friend, He is the one I go to with and for everything. I wouldn’t have told you that Jesus and I go everywhere together; that he lives in me. Why? I guess it may because those things really can’t be seen. The other things can be proven. I guess I’ll need to think on the “why” a little bit more as God seems to have something there for me.
So, back to the question of the day: Do you know about Jesus or do you know Jesus? How can you tell? How would you defend your answer?
Intimacy in regards to Jesus may sound foreign to you and tomorrow we will take a closer look to see what an intimate relationship with Jesus should look like. Keep Luke 7 bookmarked as we will be referring back to it tomorrow.
Be blessed and be a blessing!