28: Make Sure It Hurts | Chap 12 of Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman

In this episode John and Gregg discuss Chapter Twelve from Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.  John observes Idleman building this chapter around the idea that we are to go wherever God wants us to go and that it won’t be comfortable or easy.  What doesn’t add up here, when contrasted with other parts of the book, is Idleman’s directive that we need to say “Yes” to God before we even know the request.  This doesn’t make sense in light of his heavy emphasis earlier in the book about Christians being very cognizant of what they are committing to when they decide to be followers.

Gregg argues that this inconsistency is born of the fact that, in laying out his message, the author is side-stepping main directives for Christians (such as loving God, self, and neighbor). And because these directives are higher priorities compared to “taking up our cross,” Gregg believes Idleman is obligated to work out his views in light of the “greatest commandment” and others scriptures (that may seemingly contradict his position) instead of focusing on one. If Idleman cannot make the directives he’s putting forth square with the whole of scripture, then his views are arguably incorrect.

Against Idleman’s use of Luke 9:57-8 (to show that following Jesus is costly), Gregg examines the same passage and other verses connected to the idea of “following” to argue that instead Jesus is emphasizing that following him represents a decisive break with patterns of right action as understood in 1st century Palestine (duties of the elder son, etc.).  Placed in a modern context, this means foregoing those things that our society considers to be “non-negotiables” for the sake of the kingdom of God.

John is also put off by the author’s orientation towards “going” and “doing” (things that are difficult and will hurt), and never towards “being.”  Gregg agrees but also tries to navigate a middle way here by noting that our relationship with God is primarily a love relationship, and that love and madness are proximal in many ways.  So love enables deviant actions relative to honour and shame, and today love promotes activities that cause us to forego convenience and benefit.

Finally, John questions the idea, popular in evangelical thought, that we are responsible to bring the gospel to others (and that this will always mean sacrifice and suffering).  Gregg demurs: this orientation may either come from loving oneself poorly or from taking too much responsibility for others (rather than letting God be God–an idolatrous practice!).

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