Are You A Fanatic?

Acts 26:24-25, 28

Sports is one of the most popular pastimes in the world.
Billions of dollars are spent on sports events and sports related items.
Events like the Super Bowl and the World Series attract worldwide interest.
Many Christians would also admit that sports are probably the biggest idol in many people's lives.
Of course many Christians follow athletics.

I would have to admit that I love all kind of sports.
And there are some things that sports fans can teach Christians.

Did you ever think about the origin of the word, "fan?"
The word, "fan," is a shortened form of "fanatic."
A fanatic is "one who is unreasonably enthusiastic or overly zealous,
and goes beyond what is reasonable
However, a fan is "one who is enthusiastic about a sport, pasttime, or performer."

We can see by the definitions that there is a fine line between the two.
The dedication and zeal that a sports fan shows for his team or sport might be considered fanatical.
The object of that kind of enthusiasm should be shown to Jesus Christ and to the things of God.
I believe that many Christians stop short of full surrender to God because of what people might say.
After all, we don't want to be called, "fanatics", do we?

As Paul expounded and preached Christ, the two leaders had totally opposite reactions.
Agrippa said in verse 28, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

On the other hand, Festus, had this reaction:
"And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice,
Paul thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad
." (Acts 24:25)
But Paul 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 shown.
Festus was saying, "Paul, you are a fanatic. You are excessive about this "Jesus."

Festus thought Paul's words were unreasonable and over zealous.
Yet politicians in his day out nothing of murdering potential rivals to gain their power.
Paul was fanatical in the eyes of Festus, but murdering for political gain was okay.

We can learn a lot from sports "fanatics" of our day.
It is socially acceptable to be a sports "fan," and there are many illustrations for us to study.
The average sports can provide a window to us as we consider our faithfulness to Christ.

Sports Fans Are Faithful – They Don't Conform

Sports fans like to identify with their team.
They will spend hundreds of dollars to have caps, shirts, socks – all with the logos
of their favorite teams on them.
They don't mind being different.
They don't mind wearing clothes and hats with the logo of their team on it.

I read in where Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time,
wore his North Carolina Tar Heel gym shorts under his uniform while he was winning championships
for the Chicago Bulls.
He has said, "Once a Tar Heel always a Tar Heel."

There have been some fans who have even been buried in a replica jersey of their favorite player.
If sports fans are so bold by representing their teams, why are Christians so shy
about being a witness for Christ.
A sports fan can leave his native state, and still 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 Judea, and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost part of the earth
." (Acts 1:8)

A witness represents Christ to the lost.
A witness testifies for all that Christ has done for him.
A sports fan will do a "tomahawk chop" in a crowded mall to show their spirit,
but some Christians have trouble passing out tracts in the same environment.

Sports Fans Are Big Spenders – They Don't Hold Back!

Another truth about sports fans 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.
The game is their reward for a winning season.
Fans order tickets to the game – the order plane tickets – and they make hotel reservations
before they leave for their "reward."

An individual fan could spend as much as $2,000 just for a ticket to his bowl game.
This is also true for NFL Super Bowl tickets and for the World Series tickets, the NBA,
and for college basketball's Final Four.
Such a weekend for a fan would run into the hundreds of dollars.
But no sacrifice is too great when your team is involved in the special events.

Contrast this attitude to that of many Christians who might say,
"Why does the pastor have to 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 Corinthians 3:7)
Abounding in giving actually means to "exceed what is expected."

When we consider all that Christ Jesus has done for us and all the heavenly blessings
that are waiting for 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 Jesus Christ?
Giving is a true test of our love.

Sports Fans Are Tireless – They Don't Rest!

Sports fans will travel for hours to see their team play.
Some fans will travel the home games no matter how far away they live.
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.
They will yell and scream throughout the game.

Also, they are emotionally attached to their cause.
They feel that they are accomplishing something – that they are part of something exciting.

Now let us examine the good works of many Christians.
Like the Pharisees in the days of Jesus, they do their works to be seen of men.
They get upset if they are not recognized from the pulpit for their efforts or not mentioned in the church bulletin.
Of course, not all Christians behave in this way.

Many believers go their whole lives working in obscurity, and never getting any credit in this world.
Others, though, pick their spots of service.
They want the premier place, and the accolades that go with it.

Romans 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."

Galatians 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 must come from the heart with both our Savior and our fellow man.
Our good works are testimony of our changed life and of God's residence in our hearts. (James 2:14-20)
Our service is also a test – a test of our love. (1 Corinthians 3:9-17)

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 parent's or their childhood experiences.
Once you become the fan of a certain team, the bond is there 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 told 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 Saviour.
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 its web of sin.
Satan's deceits should never make us lose sight of His love and goodness to us.

Sports Fans Are Passionate – They Don't Give Up!

Another distinguishing characteristic of a 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 their fans continue to support them.
Some of the greatest sports stories are about those who did not give up in the face of 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 He asked His disciples this question, "Will ye also go away?"
Peter replied with that 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 Jesus is the reason for everything good and blessed in our lives.
There must be no "going back" to our old lives.
And there should be no doubting His love and compassion for us, His children.

So many Christians lose sight of His goodness to us.
It is easy to let other things crowd our minds to the point of temporarily forgetting His great blessings.
Paul stood before Festus, and was ridiculed for his faith.
Festus was fearful of Paul's words and beliefs.

Our society today is also fearful.
We must realize that this world is not a friend to the grace of Jesus.
Our society does not comprehend truth faith.
It seeks to label our stand for God has 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 his, "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's 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 mastered by Christ,
that we should be captives of the Lord.
That is the ideal… our only ideal

May we never lose the passion and joy of being God's child.
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…"

"This sermon was adopted, and I regret that I did not keep the source of this message.
But God is the giver, and I am grateful that someone gave to us what God gave to them.
But it is a message that needs to be preached, and I hope and pray that others will preach it
Dr. Harold L. White