For some mysterious reason, the YouTube algorithm thought that a teenage girl playing the drums to some ‘80s hits should be featured on my feed.

It’s a mildly scary thought that smartphone apps are getting to know us so well.

When I was a teenager, like the girl in the video, I would don a set of headphones and thrash away on my drum kit, to the consternation of passersby. I never reached the heights of competency as the YouTube girl, I played along to classic drum-accompaniment songs such as Van Halen’s Jump and Easy Lover by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey.

Talk about bringing back memories.

As a teenager, I would get a feeling of euphoria from the drums that few things in life delivered before or since.

And yet, it’s been 30+ years since I picked up a set of drum sticks.

In fact, so few people know about my drumming past that my wife of 25 years is probably hearing about it for the first time as she reads this post.

Hobbies and interests come and go. Come to think about it about it, I used to also play the guitar, collect stamps, and play basketball.

You can probably think of many hobbies of your own that held your interest for a time before you moved on to something else.

What Do We Build Our Lives Upon?

However, there are some things in life that we don’t move on from, as such, instead we build a life in them, around and for them.

Marriage, raising children and following the call to live a consecrated life are examples that come readily to mind. But also things like the fundamental moral values and behaviours we were taught as children and continue to master as we grow.

Our Catholic faith is also not a mere interest, and following Jesus is not a hobby.

Or is it…?

Author and popular speaker Jeff Cavins has penned a new book, The Activated Disciple, in which he asks that very question, “Are you a fan or a follower of Jesus?”

In a series of questions that make a useful examination of conscience, Jeff asks us to go deep:

How would you respond if someone were to ask you, “Are you a Catholic?” Would you answer with what you consume and believe, or would you answer with something that speaks of an intimate relationship with God? Are you a fan or a follower? Are you simply curious and hungry for more knowledge? Or do you have a hunger to put what you know into practice? Do you have a deep desire to break out of the cycle of being a Christian “consumer” in order to become an active follower of Jesus Christ? (p. 7)

For the record, Jeff is not saying for one moment that we should be poorly formed or not to bother reading widely or to take an interest in issues of importance for the Church; quite the opposite.

The distinction is like that of theory and practice, or of knowing by way of the intellect and living in whole-hearted fashion.

Are We Consumers or Friends?

I have to admit that Jeff’s questions gave me pause. Do I just consume the things of God? Or am I intentionally living in the grace of intimate friendship with Him?

One of my temptations is to reach first thing, in the morning, for news and commentary about Church issues (too much YouTube?), rather than pick up my Rosary and Bible so I can spend my day’s first moments with our Lord.

Another temptation is to speak to others about God as though He were a set of principles, like the rules of stableford golf, rather than as Abba.

I’m also pretty good at collecting devotional items and then not praying with them.

Fortunately for me and you, there is much hope and practical insight in The Activated Disciple. As Jeff Cavins points out on every page, our hope is in Christ.

Know this, if deep in your heart you have the desire to walk intimately with Jesus allow him to work on your heart as a potter works with clay. Embark on an adventure beyond anything you have done before, then the life of an activated disciple is for you. (p. 9)

What are your Christian consumer temptations? How can we take our faith to the next level?

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