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What Sports Fans Can Teach Christians
How To Be a Jesus Fan

Sports is one of the largest pastimes in the world.  Biillions of dollars are spent on sports events and sports related items.  Events like the Super Bowl and World Series attract worldwide interest.  Many Christians would also add that sports is probably the biggest idol in many people's lives. Many Christians also follow athletics.  This message is not to condemn all sports as bad.  In fact, there are some things sports fans can teach Christians --if we are willing to learn.  What can sports fans possibly teach the Christian?

Did you ever study the origins of the word "fan?"  The word "fan" is a shortened form of "fanatic."    A fanatic is "one who is unreasonably enthusiastic or overly zealous, going beyond what is reasonable"  A fan, however, is "one who is enthusiastic about a sport, pastime, or performer."We can see by the definitions that there is a fine line between the two, with the difference possibly only being in the eye of the beholder.

The dedication and zeal that a sports fan shows for his team or sport might be considered fanatical if the object of that enthusiasm was Jesus Christ and the things of God.  I believe many Christians stop short of full surrender to God because of "what people might say."  After all, we don't want to be fanatics, do we?

In Acts 26, the great Apostle Paul addresses King Aggripa and Festus the governor at the Caesarian  judgment seat.  As Paul expounded and preached Christ the two leaders had totally opposite reactions.  Aggripa said in verse 28, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.  Festus, on the other hand, had this reaction:

24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
25  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
The word in verse 24 that is translated "mad" in the English is the Greek word "mania."  This is the only time in the Bible the word "mania" is used.  It is still used today across the world as a psychological term.  It means "excessive excitability, a persistent, obsessive enthusiasm."

Paul was accused of the same mental conditions many committed Christians down through the ages have heard.  Festus was saying, "Paul, you are a fanatic!  You are excessive about this "Jesus."  Festus thought Paul's words were unreasonable and overzealous.  Yet politicians in his day thought nothing of murdering potential rivals to their power.  Paul was fanatical in the eyes of Festus, but murdering for political gain was okay.

I believe Christians can learn a lot from sports "fanatics" of our day.  It is socially acceptable to be a sports "fan" and they are ready illustrations for us to study.  The average sports can can provide a window to us as we consider our faithfulness to Christ.

I.   Sports Fans Are Faithful  -They Don't Conform!

Sports fans like to identify with their team.  They have hats, shirts, socks, even underwear with the logos of their favorite teams on them.  They don't mind being different.  They enjoy being the only one in a crowd with the logo of their team on it.  They are "representing." It has been said that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, wore his North Carolina Tar Heel gym shorts under his uniform while he was winning championships for the Chicago Bulls.  "Once a Tar Heel always a Tar Heel," he has said.  Some fans have even been buried in a replica jersey of their favorite player.

So if sports fans are emboldened by representing their teams, why are Christians so shy about being a witness for Christ?  The Braves fan or Falcon fan can leave his native Atlanta and wear his colors proudly wherever he might go, but the Christian gets in a crowd of lost people and loses his voice!
...ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.  (Acts 1:8) The witness represents Christ to the lost; he testifies of what Christ has done for him.  Some Atlanta Brave fans would do the "tomahawk chop" in a crowded mall to show their spirit, but some Christians have trouble passing out tracts in such an environment.

II.  Sports Fans Are Spenders   -They Don't Withhold!

Another truth about the sport fan that Christians could emulate is their reputation for spending money in support of their team.  Every year during the Christmas holidays and New Year's, thousands of fans follow their college teams to a "bowl" game.  This game is their reward for a winning season.  Fans order tickets to the game,  plane tickets, and hotel reservations before they leave for their "reward."  An individual fan could spend as much as $2000 on his bowl trip.  NFL Super Bowl tickets, World Series tickets, and college basketball's Final Four weekend cost in the hundreds of dollars.  No sacrifice is too great when your team is involved in these special events!

Contrast this attitude to that of many Christians.  "Why does our pastor always preach on money?"  Maybe it just seems that way to those who do not give!  Concerning the grace of giving Paul said to the Corinthians, ...see that ye abound in this grace also. (2 Cor. 8:7)   Abounding in giving actually means to "exceed what is expected."  When we consider all that Christ Jesus has done for us and the heavenly blessings awaiting us, we should be eager to worship God in our giving.  Someone said, "You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving."  How much do you love Christ?  Giving is a true test of our love.

III. Sports Fans Are Tireless   -They Don't Rest!

Sports fans will travel for hours to see their team.  Some fans will travel to road games no matter how far away.  Fans of college teams join booster clubs to further the efforts of their teams.  Little league moms and dads will sell candy and other items to help buy jerseys.  Sports fans are tireless in their works  --they never rest.  Further, they are emotionally attached to their cause.  They feel that they are accomplishing something.

Now examine the good works of many Christians.  Like the Pharisees of Jesus' time, they do their works to be seen of men.  They get upset if they are not recognized from the pulpit for their efforts.  I do not mean to categorize all Christians in this way.  Many believers go their whole lives working in obscurity, never getting credit in this world.  Others, though, pick their spots of service.  They want the premier place --and the accolades that go with it.

Rom 6:22  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Gal. 5:13  For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Our service should be from the heart, with both our Savior and our fellow man in view.  Our good works are a testimony of our changed life and God's residence in our hearts.  (James 2:14-20)  Our service is also a test --a test of our love and future rewards.  (I Cor. 3:9-17)

IV.  Sports Fans Are Loyal   -They Don't Switch!

If you enjoy sports at all, then you have probably heard of the term "bandwagon" fans.  These are the (so-called) fans who switch from one team to another according to wins and losses.  They are always on the side of the winner.  But these fans are held in derision by most true fans.  Most fans choose their loyalties based on their parents or their childhood experiences.  Once you become the fan of a certain team, the bond is for life if you are a true fan.   Win or lose, sink or swim ---they are your team!

Christians should have the same attitude as Paul taught the Philippians in Chapter 3: That I may know him...I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Salvation is a lifetime bond with the Savior.   The personal relationship with Christ Himself is primary to the believer.  No one has ever been disappointed in Him.  We may make a mess of our lives after salvation, but Jesus is never to blame.  The world should not be able to lure us into it's web.  Satan's wiles should never make us lose sight of His love and goodness to us. 

V.   Sports Fans Are Passionate   -They Don't Give Up!

Another distinguishing characteristic of the sports fan is their passion for their teams.  True fans will never give up until the last second ticks off the clock or the last out is made.  They never stop believing in their team no matter what the circumstances.  Some teams seemingly give their fans more misery than excitement, but the fans continue to support them.  Some of the greatest sports stories are about those who did not give up in the face of great adversity.

In John Chapter 6 we read of followers who walked no more with him.  They heard hard sayings that were difficult for them to accept.  Jesus watched them leave, and asked His disciples this question, Will ye also go away?  Peter replied with the great acclamation:  Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.    Our relationship with Him is the reason for anything good and blessed in our lives!  There should be no "going back" to our old lives; there should be no doubting His love and compassion for us, His children.  So many Christians lose sight of His goodness to us.  Its easy to let other things crowd our minds to the point of temporarily forgetting His great blessings.

Conclusion:  Paul stood before Festus and was ridiculed for his faith.  Festus was fearful of Paul's words and beliefs.  So is today's society.  We must realize that this world is no friend to grace; it does not comprehend true faith.  It seeks to label our stand for God as some type of madness or fanaticism.  The victorious Christian life is an existence of fullness of joy.  It affects us deeply and thoroughly.  It can be no other way.

G. Campbell Morgan writes these words in Handbook for Bible Teachers and Preachers: 

Why is it that when a man steps over the line and finds Christ he so often leaves his passion, his common sense, and his business ability behind him?  When Christ arrests a man, He wants the whole man;, every part of him, every ability he has....The supreme thing is that we should be wholly, absolutely master by Christ, that we should be captives of the Lord.  That is the ideal...our only ideal.  (pg. 233)
May we never lose the passion and joy of being His.  Like Paul in Acts 26:29, we can say to the world:  I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am...
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