During the middle of football season, in the south where football is its own form of deity, it is always interesting to watch the fans. Even in this congregation, we have fans of various college football teams, including Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, LSU, Memphis, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and others. (listed in alphabetical order, not ranking order for the sake of not offending anyone). Some of these teams have had great seasons. Others have left their fans disappointed.
Everyone begins their season hoping for a championship but only a few make it. What is often interesting to watch is what the fans do when a team starts to lose. Many will admit they never thought a championship would happen. Others will turn from hopeful excitement to mocking embarrassment. Others will even turn on the attack like they have been personally affronted by their teams lack of performance and start to pick apart the players, coaches, and stats. Very few fans will stick with their team, continuing to hold out hope for every win. You can even see this on the TV; the bleachers start to clear as the season progresses and the games are lost.
We call these common fans “fair-weather fans” because they often only support their team when things are good. And I wonder how many of us are “fair-weather fans” of Jesus.
The Bible writers were clear that following Jesus would not always be blue skies and rainbows. Take Jesus Himself as an example. He was a man of impecable character. No deceit was ever in His mouth. No sin was ever on His conscience. No lustful thought filled His imagination. No racist comment was ever uttered from His mouth. He was constanlty speaking with genuine love for His fellow man and constantly teaching about morality, kindness, compassion, and right living. Yet, this most perfect of all men was killed in the most brutal of ways because of the petty jealousy of the religious leaders.
There a lesson in this example. No matter how perfect you live, people will hate you. No matter how kind you are, some will despise you for it. No matter how lovingly you treat othres, you will be treated with pettiness.
Following Jesus creates in each of us a struggle. We who often want to fit in with the world, who want to be appreciated for our efforts to love others and treat them well, we who wants to be known for godly character, will ultimately be shunned for following Him. If we seek to be like Him, and be His people, we are fighting a losing battle with the world (cf. Jn 15.18-25).
This gives us the choice of following Him anyway, or following Him just enough to fit in with the world. The truth is as long as we are just like Him enough to be known as good people, we can still fit in with the world. But when we determine to be like Him completely, we must accept that the world will treat us like it treated Him. And this does not allow us to be “fair-weather fans” of Jesus. We cannot just follow Him when things are good, because following Him will eventually make things bad. We cannot win with the world and win a victory over the world. He doesn’t allow it and never intended to. So let’s become followers of Jesus, not just fans. Let’s become die-hard supporters, cheering on His cause, even when the world looks down on us for cheering on a “loser.” Because we know He eventually wins the championship, and we can win with Him. Come rain or wind, snow or sleet, let’s follow Jesus.