Jesus Wants Followers


Jesus doesn’t want fans. He wants followers. Jesus wants people who will do more than simply sit in a pew and clap and cheer. He wants people who will take up a cross daily, the cross of service and love.


Some of you may know the story of Rich Stearns. When Rich Stearns was a young man and new Christian, he got engaged. His fiancée like many young brides wanted to register for china at the local department store. But he said to her, ”As long as there are children starving in the world, we will not own china, crystal, or silver.”


What a wonderful statement of discipleship. His answer reminds me of that first man in our lesson who said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”


However, as Rich entered the corporate world and started climbing the ladder, he found he had a really good head for business. Twenty years later he was the CEO of Lennox–ironically, the top producer of luxury tableware–fine china–in the country.


One day Rich received a phone call from an organization called World Vision, asking if he would consider getting involved with them. So Rich went to Rakai, Uganda, an area considered ground zero for the AIDS pandemic. In that village he sat in a thatched hut with a thirteen-year-old boy with the same first name as his–Richard. A pile of stones outside the door of the hut marked where they had buried Richard’s father, who had died of AIDS. Another pile of stones marked where they buried his mother, who also died of AIDS. That kind of thing happens every day in Africa.


Rich talked for a while with young Richard–now the head of the household trying to raise his two younger brothers–and asked him at one point, “Do you have a Bible?”


Yes, the boy said, and he went into the other room and brought back the one book in their house.   “Are you able to read it?” Rich asked, and at that the boy’s face lit up. “I love to read the gospel of John because it says Jesus loves children,” the boy said.


And suddenly Rich Stearns knew what he had to do. He needed to follow Jesus full-time. He left his job and his house and his title. Today he’s working for God.


Rich Stearns is the kind of man Christ is looking for. Christ is not looking for people who’ll get excited for a few moments on Sunday morning and then forget all about their good intentions. He’s not looking for people who are suffering from the “But-first” syndrome and who are continually making excuses about why now is not a good time for them to make a commitment. Jesus is looking for followers–people who will wake up each day with a determination to live as Christ would have them live. Can he count on you?


John Rich Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009). Cited in John Ortberg, The Me I Want To Be (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).

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