Kyle Idleman took the idea of dating Jesus and made a book about it. That may have been an oversimplification, but it is the thread that weaves his book, Not a Fan, together. In a dating relationship, there always comes time for a D.T.R. (Define the Relationship). It is a conversation that determines if the relationship is to continue, where it’s going, what label to put on it, and how invested each party is. What if Jesus were to have a DTR with us, asking the question of how committed we are? Are we fan’s of his or followers?
The first section of this book is spent drawing the line between fans and followers. Idleman’s first few chapters parade the people who had encounters with Jesus in front of us. Each one, Nicodemus, Sinful woman, the crowd of Luke 14, aligns itself with either fans of Jesus or true followers. To best summarize the difference between the two, Teddy Roosevelt said it best:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Idleman points out Jesus drawing a line in the sand, saying are you gonna follow me? As he runs crowds, people, and teachings in front of the reader, the question remains: How committed are you? A simple D.T.R. showing us where we stand with Him.
The second section of the book is a walk through Luke 9.23:
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
If the first section was defining the line, this section is an invitation to cross the line in the sand. First, the author points out the invitation is for “anyone”. Regardless of the past, the sin, or the issues of a person, Jesus calls them follow him. Secondly, Jesus is asking us to passionately pursue him because he has passionately pursued us. Third, it is a call to deny self (a point that Idleman argues is often forgotten in Christianity). Finally, he fleshes out the idea of “taking up your cross daily.” Idelman focuses most of his time on the historical meaning and signifigance of the cross. This chapter, with its historical background, its biblical teaching, and its cultural application was worth the price of the book.
The last section of the book is about the three men that visit with Jesus at the end of Luke 9. The three men came each with a different excuse for not following Jesus. Either they didn’t like where it was going, the timing was wrong, or their priorities are off. The men that came before Jesus bring the same type of excuses that I have found to be used by our culture the most today. Idleman does an excellent job exegetically teaching these three men in an applicable way.
I really enjoyed this book. The Biblical teaching contained within this book is straightforward and well focused. Idleman does an incredible job of not letting the reader get bogged down or off track. Probably the strongest part of this book was his use of stories and illustrations. Kyle uses many personal illustrations and footnoted humor to move along the message and material. His stories bring out the text and add color to the teaching. The personal stories at the end of every chapter really progressed the thesis as well. This is the perfect book for new believers and teens who are wanting to know about how to truly follow Jesus. The book is a fairly easy read, but its application is difficult to master.