At my four year old’s preschool, I noticed a sign for a some sort of study or sermon series called “Fan or Follower?” I think this has become popular as I’ve seen it elsewhere. While I didn’t go to the sermon or study for obvious reasons (kind of busy at my own church!), I wondered whether the terms were the best suited for the distinction, at least in my area.
I get the reason for the question-are you a fan of Jesus or are you a follower (the latter is supposedly the committed one)-but found it a little ironic, if not out of place in West Virginia.
I even the get the answer: Jesus calls us to follow Him. He is not just someone we root for and then go back to doing whatever we were doing: work, play, school, etc…
However I wonder if the term “fan” actually connotes something even more committed than the term follower, at least how we think of the term.
I’m really not belittling the church for using this designation, I just wonder if these are the right terms to use here.
For instance, a fan to most of us in this area isn’t someone that “likes” something on facebook, it is someone who is passionate about his team. In a culture driven by sports-either watching them, expecting your kid to get a scholarship from them, following them on internet discussion boards-the fan is much more than just someone who watches a team and then goes about his business. He takes that passion with him where he goes. He/she, as I should say, gets angry when his/her team lose, elated when they win. He/she think about the next time his/her team will play. The team’s performance often determines his attitude. There is no offseason for a true fan.
And I’m not dogging much of this behavior. I check the Bucs website several times a day, even in the off season. But what I’m saying is a “fan” is pretty darn involved, committed, and can even be obsessed. It can be a greater passion than anything else.
When you think of a “committed” (to those who don’t share the same team the term is obnoxious) fan, you have to think of a West Virginia University Mountaineer fan. The fans are so committed-or some would argue obnoxious-that one of my friends stopped going to home games because he almost got into a fight with a fellow Mountaineer fan; he wasn’t “in” to the game enough, apparently, from what I remember of the conversation.
3. West Virginia University. The school led the nation in intentionally set street fires from 1997 to 2003, lighting up an unmatchable 1,120 blazes. That includes 120 in a single night to celebrate a football win over Virginia Tech in 2003 and sixty infernos set to celebrate advancing to the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament in 2005.
Now setting fire to things is certainly going beyond what it means to be a fan, or at least what it means to break the law (I think couch burning is now a felony).
But consider that the term “fan” for many means someone who is passionate, who puts all his eggs in one basket, who is loyal, who follows a team whether at work or at play, who talks about his team to others and wants to hear others talk about his team, who’s emotional state rests not on what is going on around him but what is happening in the game, who can’t see how others could be divided in their “fan-ship.”
All that stuff, if applied to Jesus, seems pretty good. To learn about Jesus through other people, to think about him, to use the web to learn and share about him, to put all your eggs in his basket, to have your emotional state driven by His victory instead of your situations.
If I could be more of a West Virginia type fan for Jesus, I think I’d take that. That seems to me, in every sense of the cultural definition of a fan, to mean just as much, if not more, than a “follower.”
Jesus did say, though not in English, “Come follow me.” And in Greek, he predominantly, though not entirely, is recorded (he spoke Aramaic) to have use one term. But I wonder if in West Virginia 2012 if we wouldn’t have said, “Come be the fan of me that you are for West Virginia football.”
I think fan is probably as good a term as follower. Maybe in a lot of places outside this state as well. Soccer-in any country but this one-anyone?