Pam and I have been discussing a common practice among us as human beings. In sensitivity to what people have experienced in their lives, we dismiss them or ourselves from responsible decisions they can make today because "they were never taught" or "they never did that before." I get that and I don't want you to read this as being some hard-nosed condemnation of anyone. Its not.
What I do want to do is ask a different question. What do you see in Scripture when someone is truly and completely encountered by Jesus? What difference did that make? Were the patterns of their lives different?
I find that those who were self-righteous or only religious admirers of Jesus were no different and even tried to find ways to criticize Him or His followers when the truth He spoke made them feel uncomfortable. In turn, Jesus spoke of them as snake pits or white washed tombs. Or for those who were close enough to participate in some miraculous events yet failed to follow when He did things differently than they expected, He said He never knew them. (Matt. 7)
But for the ones whose encounter with Jesus transformed them, it was different. Zacchaeus declared he was going to return stolen tax money to people four fold. That is what the law required but his practice had been the polar opposite. The woman at the well went from hiding in the shadows of shame to telling everyone about the man who told her everything she ever did but treated her with compassion and gave her hope. The Ethiopian eunuch knew enough to ask to be baptized after Philip introduced him to the Truth. A Roman centurion encountered Jesus and related his understanding of authority to what Jesus could do. And Jesus was amazed at his faith.
I'm not suggesting that we don't need help in the journey, we do. And that is why Jesus gave us to each other. But I do believe that our expectation should be that if someone has truly been transformed by Jesus, moving from being a fan of Jesus to being a true follower, the work of God in them changes the desires of their lives. And there is change. No matter what they came out of.
Jesus said in Luke 9:23: 23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Die and follow me wherever I may lead you. Our trouble comes when we want to admire and cheer Jesus on but not die with Him. That is the difference between a fan and a follower. Kyle Idelman, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, has written a book and done a series on this very topic. Here is the explanation from his own life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVXs0vkQNvc
Are you a fan or a follower? Transformed and growing in commitment or excusing why that isn't happening while giving Jesus limited access to speak into your life?
Jesus said the way is narrow and only followers will be on it.