Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 1 of “Fan or Follower – Shine Brightly” (LISTEN HERE).
The football season has gotten into full swing. Friday nights are filled with high school games, Saturday with college matchups and Sunday with NFL showdowns. I guess if you don’t like football, it’s not really your “season.” Even if football is not your season, if you have played or had a child or grandchild that played, you know that the ability to compete on the field takes hours of work, dedication, practice, and willingness to persevere over adversity.
Being a fan on the other hand is the fun of tailgating before the game, sitting in the stands, cheering, criticizing the refs, groaning when a play doesn’t go your way, or jumping up and down when your team scores or comes out on top. Most fans engage for a few hours as the game is being played and then they are done. There is no training to be a fan. It doesn’t take a Monday morning in the weight room to be able to hold the remote control. It doesn’t take years of prep to drink a beer and it certainly doesn’t take days of watching film to be an “expert” play caller from the comfort of your easy chair.
As someone said, “Football is 100,000 people desperately in need of exercise and 22 men desperately in need of rest.”
So when Jesus invites us in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me,” he is inviting us out of the stands and onto the field. He is asking us to leave the comfort of being a fan and to take up the challenge of being a follower.
Perhaps as we sit in our easy chair and watch a game on TV, we say, “I could do better than that,” but then when given the opportunity we say, “No way!”
This can happen in our Christian life as well. We maybe find comfort on Sunday looking at the “TV Screen” of culture, the people around us, etc. and say, “I can do better than that” and then when given the opportunity to live out our faith in our school, work, community or home, we cower back and say, “No way!”
We like the comfort of being a “fan” for Jesus. We cheer him on as he heals the sick, raises the dead, or challenges the religious elites. We agonize as he is flogged, taunted and hung on the cross. We jump out of our seats as he comes out of the tomb alive, cheering his victory over death…realizing we get the benefit of it all with out having to do the work to earn it all.
So we get the championship t-shirt.
But wouldn’t you like to get the championship RING?
Jesus promised, “Be faithful to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelations 2:10)
Faithfulness is a lifetime of following.
So in this series we are going to ask for the Spirit-given ability to get out of the stands and on to the field of the Christian life. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, Jesus said, (Matthew 5:11) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The opponents that will stand against our life of following Jesus will be well prepared and have in mind to defeat Christ and our Christian faith. We will seek to be prepared, equipped, and ready for the match up. As always, Jesus never calls us to do something for which he does not equip us. And when he equips us, teaches us and prepares us, by his power and grace we gain the victory.
We don’t follow with hope of victory…we follow with the certainty of victory!
So, Christian, get ready. The Lord is calling you out of the stands and onto the field…to stop just being a fan and to be a follower!
Apply: In your life with Jesus, what makes it easy to be a fan? What makes it challenging to be a follower?
Prayer: Spirit of God, empower each of us to leave the comfort of the stands and to eagerly and readily engage in the challenge of following Jesus. Lord Jesus, thank you for providing the leadership and coaching, and most of all the confidence of certain victory so as we follow you we always have strength in the One we follow. AMEN.