More Than a Fan

I’ll admit it up front. I am a big fan of the Seattle Seahawks. After 30+ years of loyal support for this up-and-down team from the Pacific Northwest, I am riding the victory wave of the “Legion of Boom.” Everyone who knows me knows that I have been over-the-top in my celebration of last weekend’s Super Bowl win.

This past week I had a connecting flight in the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Let’s just say, those hours were better than Christmas. I stocked up on hats, shirts, commemorative newspapers, Super Bowl programs, mugs, and travel tumblers – all bearing the images of the Seahawks logo and pictures of my amazing team. Unfortunately, I missed the celebration parade by one day. Bad planning on my part. Still. I’ve been making my own parade almost every day – in some fashion or another.

As you wag your head in disgust at my behavior – stop and think. Are you a fan of someone or something? A television show? Some rare collectibles? A certain type of music? A notable celebrity? A vintage make and model of cars? A particular form of entertainment? A brand or style of clothes? Your profession? Your home décor? The list could go on.  

What is a Fan?

A fan is defined as an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer. The word is short for “fanatic”, which is a person marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense, uncritical devotion. You might also think of “fanaticism”, which is behavior that exhibits disproportionate eagerness, unreasoning zeal, or wild and extravagant notions on some subject.

The Celebration Parade

In a recent Facebook post, Susan Snyder, a Seattle-area resident and long-time Seahawks follower, wrote of the experience of attending the parade in downtown Seattle this week: “It was so much fun! So cold, though. We ended up parking miles away, and hiking into Seattle. The crowds were so deep, back from the street, that we couldn’t see much during the parade – but it almost didn’t matter. It was just nice being around everyone, united, acting like family, friendly, having fun, so excited to be part of this! Everywhere you walked, someone would inevitably start the ‘SEA–HAWKS’ chant. Everyone was patient, kind, and polite!”

Susan is a Christ-follower and, in a moment of penetrating insight, continued her post, “I enjoyed it so much, but it did make me a little sad thinking about how this should be for Jesus. Think about the pure happiness and enthusiasm everyone was feeling for a football team. A million people were willing to stand in line for hours, walk miles, be so uncomfortable in the cold, talk to strangers, shout out their love for the Seahawks, line the streets 200-people-deep for a victory parade. Fans filled stadiums to praise the team as they walked out onto the field. I so wish we all as followers of Jesus were filled with that much joy, willing to be a ‘fool’ for Jesus, sacrificing so much time and comfort to be with Him, talking to everyone about Him, and praising Him without embarrassment or restraint!”

With Susan’s reflections stirring our hearts, let’s take a moment to remember the characteristics of a loyal devotee. According to experts, four traits typically identify a real fan.

  • A fan makes changes in their lifestyle to express their devotion – Fans make time for their admired focal point. They rearrange their weekly schedules and plan other events around the priority of expressing their commitment to their subject of interest.
  • A fan is marked by some external demonstration of loyalty – This may come through logo wear, tattoos, Facebook posts, bumper stickers, or attendance at certain conventions or events – like a victory parade.
  • A fan shows an attachment to related objects – Many fans will pay big dollars for a game ball, an article of clothing, or a special relic attached to the object or person they admire.
  • A fan desires social interaction with other fans – Fans love to get together to watch a game, support one another, share ideas, and advance the loyalties and causes they believe in.

More Than Fans

In his book, Not a Fan, Pastor Kyle Idelman proposes that we are not fans but followers of Jesus who are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and lose our lives for His sake in order to find life indeed (Luke 9:23-24). Our lives are Christ’s and our commitment to follow and live for Jesus should far exceed the enthusiasm of a sports fan.

Yes, we will gladly make changes in our lifestyle to express our devotion to Jesus. As He changes us, He also transforms the way we behave and how we order our priorities.

Yes, we will demonstrate our faith in and loyalty to Him through bold public witness. We will bear the message of His cross more passionately than the logo of our favorite sports team. We will be bold in extolling the name and Gospel of our Savior.

Yes, we will attach ourselves passionately to His word, His church, His causes, and His missionary enterprises. That is just what a disciple does as Christ lives in and through his life.

Yes, we will earnestly desire interaction with fellow disciples as we express devotion to the church, cherish biblical fellowship, and serve in the power of His Spirit through the gifts He has given to us for the good of others. We will deeply value unity and our shared mission as a lifeline of our existence.

But beyond this fanatical behavior, we will gladly surrender our very will to His leadership and kingdom. We will be more than fans. Our lips and our lives will declare, “For me to live is Christ,” and regardless of the cost, we will give our all for the sake of His good news, name, and fame in all the earth.

We are already participants in the greatest victory parade of human history (2 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 4:8) as those who have been conquered by Christ and gladly live in sacrificial loyalty to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is our true Champion – and Master. I pray He will give you and me grace to embrace Him with incomparable enthusiasm and sacrifice. We are more than fans. We are followers.

Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.