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    Followers, Not Admirers

    Jesus never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples.

    By Søren Kierkegaard

    April 24, 2022

    Available languages: العربية

    • Brian Dolge

      Christ said he came to bring division, and this is perhaps the most fundamental. The admirer observes, maybe comments, but the disciple throws themselves after the beloved master and commits to a new life. God is not a God of internal devotion and halfway measures. Modern people have many claims upon them that must be honored, but remember the lesson of the sheep and the goats.

    • russell

      to say nicodemus never became a follower would be an ignorant statement. read all of the gospel of john


      I agree with Beth about Nicodemus. He defended Jesus (Jn. 7:50-51) and accompanied Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus' burial. (Jn. 19:38-42) Like Joseph, Nicodemus most likely "had not consented" to Jesus crucifixion and "was waiting for the kingdom of God." (Lk. 23:50-51)

    • Andre de Mesquita

      How much I needed these words!! How much the Church of Christ spread all over the world needs this message in these days. Thank you for making articles such as these available to us on the internet.

    • Samuel H. Tsok

      The message is really challenging and need a definite response as to either one is a follower or an admirer of Christ. I choose to be a follower, infact a close and not a distant follower of Christ.

    • Beth Kieft

      Since Nicodemus was present after the crucifixion, could he not possibly be a true believer rather than simply an admirer? How can we be so sure he was only an admirer of Jesus?

    • Mike Chapman

      Jesus always wants followers not fans

    • Noelita Evelyn

      Definitely a new perspective for me......very thought provoking.......

    • LuAnn

      I agree with the article-as long as we remember that God is a God of order. Things come through evolution not revolution. God is not a self improvement course--but one of grace and salvation.

    It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression “follower.” He never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples. It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for.

    Christ understood that being a “disciple” was in innermost and deepest harmony with what he said about himself. Christ claimed to be the way and the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6). For this reason, he could never be satisfied with adherents who accepted his teaching – especially with those who in their lives ignored it or let things take their usual course. His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers and to make admirers impossible.

    a man fishing with a net

    Christ came into the world with the purpose of saving, not instructing it. At the same time – as is implied in his saving work – he came to be the pattern, to leave footprints for the person who would join him, who would become a follower. This is why Christ was born and lived and died in lowliness. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to sneak away from the Pattern with excuse and evasion on the basis that It, after all, possessed earthly and worldly advantages that he did not have. In that sense, to admire Christ is the false invention of a later age, aided by the presumption of “loftiness.” No, there is absolutely nothing to admire in Jesus, unless you want to admire poverty, misery, and contempt.

    What then, is the difference between an admirer and a follower? A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires.

    If you have any knowledge at all of human nature, who can doubt that Judas was an admirer of Christ! And we know that Christ at the beginning of his work had many admirers. Judas was precisely such an admirer and thus later became a traitor. It is not hard to imagine that those who only admire the truth will, when danger appears, become traitors. The admirer is infatuated with the false security of greatness; but if there is any inconvenience or trouble, he pulls back. Admiring the truth, instead of following it, is just as dubious a fire as the fire of erotic love, which at the turn of the hand can be changed into exactly the opposite, to hate, jealousy, and revenge.

    There is a story of yet another admirer – Nicodemus. Despite the risk to his reputation, despite the effort on his part, Nicodemus was only an admirer; he never became a follower. It is as if he might have said to Christ, “If we are able to reach a compromise, you and I, then I will accept your teaching in eternity. But here in this world, no, I cannot. Could you not make an exception for me? Could it not be enough if once in a while, at great risk to myself, I come to you during the night, but during the day (yes, I confess it, I feel how humiliating this is for me and how disgraceful, indeed also how very insulting it is toward you) I say ‘I do not know you’?” See in what a web of untruth an admirer can entangle himself!

    The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in words, phrases, songs, he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, will not reconstruct his life, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires. Not so for the follower. No, no. The follower aspires with all his strength to be what he admires. And then, remarkably enough, even though he is living amongst a “Christian people,” he incurs the same peril as he did when it was dangerous to openly confess Christ. And because of the follower’s life, it will become evident who the admirers are, for the admirers will become agitated with him. Even these words will disturb many – but then they must likewise belong to the admirers.

    From Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter and from Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Søren Kierkegaard.

    Contributed By SorenKierkegaard Søren Kierkegaard

    Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and spiritual writer.

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