Many will spend hours each week studying the statistics of the teams so that they will be well informed for future conversations around the water cooler. They may even tune in to talk shows on the sports channels to check on the latest insights from the prognosticators.
For some fans, if things don’t go their way during the game or during the season, their loyalties may change like the direction of the wind. You can see them leaving the game early, as the home team plays to a nearly empty stadium in the last 5-10 minutes of the game. Some may even turn their back entirely and switch sides for a season or two to follow a team that has more fans. Are these dedicated fans?
What would you call the group who cheer their favorite team for two hours but don’t say anything about them during the week? Their lives are not changed one little bit by the games. It is just simple entertainment – an escape. I’m not sure if I would even categorize this group as fans, would you?
No, this is not a sports column. And I’m not opposed to sports. I’m using this to draw some parallels to Christian behavior. Look at it this way:
On any given Sunday in America, thousands of people crowd into large church buildings to listen to a few people sing, a few people talk and hope to get “inspired.” These people will rise early on their day off, put on their Sunday best clothing, spend time driving and may even drop a $20 bill in the plate when it passes by, thinking all the time that they could have stayed home and watched “church” on TV.
During the week, as they flip the channels, they opt not to listen to the inspirational music or preaching that are available, instead, choosing to listen to something else, in case their friends and coworkers overhear and label then a “fanatic.” They definitely would not open God’s Word, especially at work.
For some church attendees, if the music service or message does not tickle their ears, they move on, changing churches like the direction of the wind. You often see them leaving the building quickly so they can get on to “more important” things, like lunch. Some may even turn their backs entirely, and stop attending any church at all.
Then, there is a group that goes to church a couple days per year, but their lives are not changed one little bit. It is just something they do because it is important, but they have forgotten why. I’m not sure if I would even categorize them as Christians, would you?
Church has become a spectator sport, but people have forgotten how to cheer. They sit on the sidelines to say they have participated, but don’t get involved. They don’t “have any skin in the game.”
How can a person know what is going on during a game if they do not actively learn the rules, know what is going on and participate?
To enjoy your time with God and get to know Him more, you have to participate. It says in the Bible that we are not the spectators in the race of life, but the runners:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” - Hebrews 12: 1-2
Something has happened. Sports enthusiasts are called “fans,” while loyal followers of Christ are labeled “fanatics.” Why isn’t it the other way around?
Set the goal before you to be a fan of Jesus Christ!
Pastor Jay Merritt