Are You a Fan or a Follower?
And so the cheer gained more and more momentum until it reached a deafening crescendo. Each side of the plane leveraged off of the passion of the other side of the plane to produce one harmonious, synchronous, and united exaltation in support of their beloved Seattle Seahawks – and they hadn’t even won the Super Bowl yet!
This past week I happened to, quite innocently, wonder onto a flight to Philadelphia that was, unbeknownst to me, the flight dozens of passionate Seattle Seahawks fans were taking to attend Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. As soon as they announced early boarding was being offered to all Seattle fans in team attire and I saw the masses of enthusiastic fans starting to celebrate in full regalia, I knew I was in for a long flight.
Sure enough, once seated, I was surrounded by scores of young men off on an athletic adventure, a pilgrimage to football mecca. They had all spent thousands of dollars for no other reason than to engage with other members of their tribe in support of a cause that brought meaning, hope and joy to their lives. They were firmly committed to do all they could to help their beloved Sea Hawks go all the way and win the big game.
“I wear the same socks to every game.” “I haven’t changed my underwear since the playoffs began.” “I haven’t changed my underwear all season!”
You wouldn’t believe all the stories of their rituals and superstitions I overheard. Each one convinced that what they were doing was somehow contributing to victory.
I admired their passion. I admired their enthusiasm. I admired their commitment. I admired their community.
I wanted to share it.
This whole experience got me thinking about the church. I wished I was that passionate about Jesus, the church and the Kingdom. I wished we were all that passionate about this epic adventure into which we have been called – and that passionate about the Caller Himself.
However, there is one critical distinction between these Seattle fans and us – we are not called to be spectators. We are not called to be fans.
We have actually been drafted by our Heavenly Coach to play the game. We have not been called to sit in the stands to cheer on Jesus and His select team of players. We are not even called to dress for the game and sit on the bench. No, we have been called to put on the jersey of Jesus, suit up in the (under) armour of God, take up our position on the team, and play hard. We are called to follow the instructions of the Coach and march that spiritual football down the field to score again and again against the opposition set against us.
We are followers, not fans. We are players, not spectators.
Our Heavenly Father coaches the team and sets the game plan, Jesus calls the plays as our spiritual quarterback and the Holy Spirit fills us with all we need to play our position on the team. It’s a winning combination. We need to follow the directions of the coach, run the plays called by Christ, support our team members and move in the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome and dominate our opposition.
Sure, some of the opposition set against us is huge and intimidating, but we have divine power to be overcomers. We need the blocking (prayer) of other members of the team, work hard to play our position with excellence, and to encourage one another just like any other winning football team. Following Jesus is a team game – we cannot do this alone.
Kyle Idleman has written a book that has become a movement: Not a Fan. In it Kyle makes a compelling case that Jesus did not come to create enthusiastic admirers, but completely committed followers.
Let’s suit up to take our place on God’s team, following our coach and quarterback into victory over the opposition.
Players, not spectators. Followers, not fans.
I am not a fan of Jesus – I trust neither are you.
Let’s get in the game.
“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
2 Peter 1:3
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
I John 5:3,4
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”