THE FANDOM OF JESUS IN A HYPED UP WORLD
By Taylor LaForest
We all know how to be fans. We’re good at it too.
We’re fans of sports teams, brands, musicians, colleges, authors, pastors, countries, cities, etc. We support their causes, buy their merchandise, and put their stickers on our water bottles and laptops.
We follow them on Twitter, memorize all their lyrics, and cheer loudly from the sidelines. And if we feel strongly enough about whatever it is, we’ll go so far as to tell our friends, family, and even strangers about it. We’ll retweet it, post articles, put a filter on our profile picture, or go the old-fashioned route and have a face-to-face conversation.
We’re excited! And who can blame us for wanting to share? We care about the cause and want others to care about it too. We are fans through and through.
Although people of all ages might relate to this, I specifically want to talk to the young adults here. I want to talk to those of you who have made it through the majority of high school (praise), are surviving the crazy fun, yet crazy broke college years, or have recently woken up to find yourself in the grown-up world of work, bills and making meals.
I have a question for you: How much of our fan-ridden lives is all just hype? How much of it is just for show?
How many of us would pick up and relocate to a new state for that movement we posted about on Facebook? How many of us would actually give up convenient coffee for a cause we say we believe in? How many of us would cheer just as loudly for our team when they haven’t had a winning season in years?
The thing about this generation is that we’re only fans when it’s convenient to be a fan. We’re supporters of the cause, team, pastor when we want to be; when it’s cool to be. Then just like last year’s fashion, we move on. “Dude, where’d you get that sticker?” “Oh it’s this new place down on 4th Street! It’s so cool. You should check it out!
We go check it out a few times, get our stickers, tell our friends, and then forget all about it by next year. Short-term fans. Some of you are already thinking “No, not me. I’ve had my Chacos for three years now and still wear them everyday.” Or maybe you find yourself thinking about that mission trip you went on in high school and are hoping to go back in the future. But even you would have to admit that your fervor and passion have died down since the day you strapped on those shoes or landed back home. You probably talk about it less. You probably don’t feel as fired-up when someone mentions it.
Are we really committed, devoted supporters or are we name-only, distant admirers?
Now I’m not trying to say this is wrong; if it is, I’m just as guilty as the next person. There’s no rule against lessening your support. But what I’m saying is that these habits, this conditioning of our behavior, can become a problem when it comes to one thing: following Jesus Christ. News Flash: It will never be cool to be a Christian. Not by the world’s standards anyways, and if you ever think that it is, I would double check who, or what, you are following.
When Jesus was walking on earth, He constantly told people to follow Him. Most of us are probably familiar with the rich young ruler and the “take up your cross and follow Me” Bible studies. The Gospels aren’t the first time we see God calling people to follow Him; the Lord has been yearning for us to follow Him since the day He breathed life into Adam’s lungs. “Where are you?” He asked Adam and Eve when they weren’t where He created them to be – by His side. They had sinned and they knew it, so they ran from His presence. And we’ve been running ever since.
This sin nature in us thinks we’ll be safer in the sin-filled world, so we go there for comfort, thinking we’ll be okay so long as we wave at God from the distance. But we’re believing a lie; our only hope for comfort, life, joy and peace is in Him. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells Israel that although the world would come to them with appealing things, they never were to forget the great power, love and jealousy of the One who brought them this far. “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.” Because the world would not be worth the consequences.
Am I a twenty-something-year-old and much more concerned with having my two-cents on alcohol preference than I am about whether drinking will be the most honoring to the Lord? Am I more worried about dressing “in-style” than I am about dressing respectfully? More focused on being able to quote the popular TV shows than about guarding my heart with what I see and hear?
I ask these things because we tend to be fans of Jesus by putting fish symbols on our cars, posting “real meaning of the season” statuses, and going to church the “majority” of the time. But if we’re going to be honest, we have a much harder time being followers. We don’t lay everything aside to make Him our first priority. We aren’t so much concerned about what He thinks.
We love Him in name, but not so much in deed. This convicts me. I’m sitting here wanting to ignore that sinking feeling that maybe I’m just a fair-weather fan of the King of the Universe. That I have a casual relationship with the One who holds all power and authority over heaven and earth. Who reigns on high, but who didn’t hesitate to bring Himself low for my sake, for the sake of love. Who has all things and needs nothing, but who wants me anyway. The One who offers me complete satisfaction and eternity in Him.
Could it be that I look at all this and say “Oh thanks for that Lord, but what are you asking of me? Ooh, I don’t know if I can live a ‘sold-out’ life. How about I get a sticker to show people that I care a little, but then I’m going to care a little more about what the world is offering. Nothing against you, God, but it just seems more acceptable.” More acceptable?
We long so desperately to be accepted that we anxiously sit by our phones waiting for those notifications to pop up. I know we know this, but I also know we need the reminder: it matters not if we are accepted by people. They have no say in the matters of eternity. But it is everything to be accepted by God. And all praise to Him that we are accepted through the blood of His Son!
We can’t forget that this is the first step and that the next one is living for Him and spending our days seeking to know Him more. The next step is following Him and it is when we take what we know about God and live it out – when we go from fan to follower – that makes all the difference. It’s okay to be a fan of that trendy local restaurant downtown on 4th Street. It’s not okay to be a fan of Jesus.
We either follow Him or we don’t. We can’t look to the right or to the left to see what other people are doing. We can’t be concerned with what they would think. No, the choice to follow Jesus is a decision only we can make. We decide to not be a fan. We decide to follow. Because at the end of the day, being a fan will leave us in the distance, longing for that acceptance we thought we would find elsewhere.
And the question we must ask ourselves is this: Am I just wanting another sticker, or would I peel them all off, lay them all aside and care not about what others would say, all for the sake of Him?
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