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Following Jesus Whatever the Cost

Kyle Idleman has written a pointed and thought provoking book about following Jesus, not just being a fan. His premise is that many of us in the country and in many churches have given into being a fan of Jesus but not willing to sacrifice our creature comforts for truly following Jesus. Kyle gets us into the book by defining what a fan is or rather what he does and doesn't do. From the dictionary a fan is "An enthusiastic admirer" (24). Idleman goes onto say that a fan is "..the guy who goes to the football game with no shirt and a painted chest. He's got a signed jersey on his wall at home. But he's never in the game" (24). It's the lady down the street who obsessed with pictures of dogs in her house, her wallpaper, and her house but who never has actually owned and trained a dog. Basically, Idelman points out that these type of people go crazy for the benefits of the team or celebrity but never commit themselves to staying with something when it gets difficult. Idelman points out that many are fans of Jesus but are not sold out to following him whatever the cost.

The chapter on one of many or your one and only was a very poignant and striking few pages. The basic thrust of his argument is that Christians have too long placed their affections for other things, objects, peoplet (etc.) than Jesus. Idleman asks a series of questions that get at the heart of the matter of realizing our distorted affections: For what do you sacrifice your money, when your hurt, where do you do for comfort, what gets you most excited, and what disappoints or frustrates you the most" (62-66). Idleman used the personal example of himself getting so excited about a football game that his daughter exclaimed, "I've never seen you so excited" (63). I was guilty as charged right here. Sports definitely captivates my attention and affections to a great degree. Does being so in tune with sports shift my affections away from Jesus and loving others (my family and others) to a place of idolatry, absolutely. I think that this point was good because in times of prayer we need to realize our need for God's forgiveness and the ability to bring repentance to bear on our lives. What Idleman is getting out in this chapter is what we traditionlly refer to as sin and its consequences, but maybe more concretely we might be looking at idolatry (placing before God and his Son anything that controls the affections of our heart, mind, and body).

I thought the chapter on anyone-open invitation was provocative and what the church needs to hear and take heed from. Idleman gets into the heart of the matter by stating, "But when Jesus says anyone, it turns out what he really means is anyone" (124). Idleman details the hypocrisy of the church in saying everyone is welcome, yet refusing those who are in grave sin, in divorce, have too long hair, and don't dress in a certain way. These callous sins come straight from a desire to place rules upon rules over what the Bible actually teaches. Lastly, in inviting all to come, Jesus is the embodiment of the grace of God that does not turn away sinners, but welcomes them with open arms. Idleman does a good job at focusing on the wrongheadedness of the church here. My only criticism of this chapter is a desire that he would expand what it means that Jesus invites anyone and how that relates to the grace of God both in the OT and the NT.

Overall, I thought this book was a good work in calling to the floor our tendency to want to follow Jesus without us costing anything. To be a follower means to follow at all costs, including our comfort, time and money. Idleman points his finger at us but also calls us to a different way of life. The only criticisms I have with the book are that I would hoped he would deal with following Jesus and taking up your cross through more examples from the early church and the New Testament. The history of the Christian faith is chalk full of men and women who have laid down their life for their Savior. Lastly, I would also add that having a fan view of Jesus is how many unbelievers think of him. Since this is true, we should seek to use this view as a conversation piece in showing them the Christ of the Scriptures.


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