We are just days away from the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX (which is 49), arguably the biggest sporting event each year. Last year’s Super Bowl was viewed by 111.5 million people, making it the most-watched TV program is U.S. history. With all the intrigue about the proper air pressure of inflated (or deflated) footballs, this Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the defending champion Seattle Seahawks should be a fun one to watch. Not only do millions of viewers watch the game on television, but the amount of food and beverage consumed at Super Bowl parties is off the charts too. During Super Bowl weekend Americans will consume 1.25 billion chicken wings, 4 million pizzas, 14,000 tons of potato chips and wash it down with 50 million cases of beer.
You might be a fan of one of this year’s participants, maybe you are just a fan of football in general, maybe you watch just to see the commercials, or maybe you are looking forward to the halftime show featuring Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz. Or possibly, you live in a household full of football fans and you have no choice but to watch the game, and besides, the snacks are pretty good!
Regardless of which category you fall into, you are nothing more than a fan. The word “fan” is a shortened version of fanatic, and the dictionary defines it as an “enthusiastic devotee (usually as a spectator) or an ardent admirer (of a person).” During this year’s Super Bowl, ordinary people will turn fanatical and pour every ounce of their existence into cheering for their team. Not only that, many will be dressed from head to toe in their team’s logo gear. But when the game is over, and the last chicken wing is eaten, these fanatics become ordinary people again, with ordinary families and ordinary jobs.
Sadly, many of us relate to Jesus that same way. For an hour or so when we go to worship services or small group meetings we are like those fans during the Super Bowl; we go wild for Jesus, but when the service is over, we go home and become “normal” again.
Jesus calls us to be more than fans. He calls us to be disciples. The dictionary defines a disciple as “a pupil or follower of any teacher or school of learning, religion, art, etc. and one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrine of that teacher.” So in other words, a disciple of Jesus is someone who is obedient to Him. It is someone who seeks God’s guidance and His purposes and plans, in everything by praying listening, seeking wise counsel, and responding.
The Bible gives us a simple definition of obedience, which is the mark of a disciple. In Luke 5:5, Simon after a long and unproductive night of fishing, responded to Jesus’ request to go back out into the water and throw down his nets again this way, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
A fan(atic) is a devotee while a disciple is a follower. Fans cheer while followers learn from their teacher and then help in spreading the good news of that teacher.
So this weekend, be a fan of your favorite team and cheer like mad during the Super Bowl. Also, commit yourself to being a disciple of Jesus, allowing Him to change you and in the process begin to make you more like Him. We bet you cannot say that about your favorite football team; that they change you and make you like them!