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The difference between being a ‘fan of Jesus’ and a ‘friend of Jesus’

Edward Sri, the author of “Into His Likeness,” says there’s a big difference between being a “fan of Jesus” and a “friend of Jesus.”

I’m guessing Dr. Sri has not met many Chicago Cubs fans, who are often more devoted to the object of their affection than some friends are to each other, but his point is well taken: there is a difference between being attracted to someone and being committed to them — in this case, the Lord.

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Sri says Jesus is looking for disciples “who are willing to do what he wants them to do, say what he wants them to say, go where he wants them to go, and give up whatever he wants them to give up. … In other words, Jesus is looking for souls willing to give a total commitment to him as disciples.”

One of the hazards of living in today’s world is that the average person is expected to be committed to so many different things that we end up being over-committed. Every new commitment competes with existing commitments because we have just so much time, energy and resources to commit to anything or anyone. In the end, all of our commitments suffer.

Sri says, “Jesus doesn’t just want to be part of our lives, he wants to be at the very center. He wants to be the number one thing in our lives.”

In case this makes Jesus sound just a little too possessive, let’s be clear about the fact that our commitment to Jesus is usually expressed in and through many of our other commitments or relationships. There’s no such thing as a spiritual relationship to Jesus which stands apart from our other, concrete relationships.

How we treat our spouse, how we care for our children or aging parents, what kind of work we do and how we do it, how we assume our responsibility for the poor and disadvantaged near and far, these are usually going to be the way in which we live out our commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ.

If we understand the real nature of discipleship, we shouldn’t find anything in those relationships which is incompatible with our relationship with Jesus or our commitment to being his disciples. But we may have to make some practical choices about how we live out our commitments.

Here, I think, marriage is a good example. Married couples face lots of practical decisions about their various commitments, but in good marriages the most important question is always, “How does this affect us?” not “How does this affect me?”

I think the same might be true about our commitment to Jesus. All of our decisions get made through the lens of discipleship.

What do you think?

Pray and Reflect

Use one or more of the following questions for personal reflection, group discussion or private journaling:

  • On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) rate how often you make practical decisions through the lens of your commitment as a disciple of Jesus? How would you have rated yourself five years ago?
  • Can you think of choices you have made that reflect your commitment as a disciple of Jesus? Can you think of ones you have made that didn’t? Where and how do you experience a tension or conflict between your commitment to the Lord and other commitments or relationships? How can we help our children, grandchildren and students make decisions that reflect their commitment as disciples?
  • I think the most important thing about my commitment to discipleship is … .

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Dave Cushing is director of adult faith formation for the Catholic parishes in Waterloo. Disciple’s Corner is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Faith Formation Division and The Witness. It is funded through the Archdiocesan Educational Development Board. Disciple’s Corner is designed to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.