Are You a True Fan?

Galatians 5: You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

A “Diehard Fan” or a “True Fan”.  Just hearing those terms likely creates mental imagery for you.  Perhaps you envision a shirtless guy painted from head to toe in the team colors screaming from the front rows of the stands.  Perhaps it’s the girl who shocked you when she named all the starting players on the field as well as all their last year’s stats.  I read a blog article entitled “Definition of a True Sports Fan”.  In it, the author differentiates between a causal fan – someone who watches “their favorite team’s games when it conveniently fits their schedule” and “they cannot name their team’s starting second basemen” – from a “true” or “diehard fan”.  He defines the latter as someone who is dedicated (i.e. doesn’t hop from team to team) and who is “emotionally attached”. A “quality of a true fan is the unmistakable pit in your stomach that fans endure after their team experiences a bad loss or worse yet being eliminated from the playoffs”.

The word “fan” is a shortened form of “fanatic”.  According to The Oxford Dictionary, a fanatic is “A person with an obsessive interest in and enthusiasm for a particular activity”.  Interestingly the origin is Mid 16th century from the Latin fanaticus and “described behavior that might result from possession by a god or demon”.  That about sums up some of the stuff I’ve seen in the stands or on TV.  Call it what you like, a fan is fully committed to their team.  While many might call themselves fans, true fans are pretty easy to spot.

Our church is going through Tim Keller’s study: Gospel in Life”.  It is described as a “course on the gospel and how it is lived out in all of life – first in your heart, then in your community, and the out into the world”.  As I prepared this week’s study, I appreciated how he differentiated between “religion” and the “the gospel”.  He argues that Christianity isn’t an invitation to get more religious.  According to Keller the “religious” only repent of sins, whereas Christians repent of both their sins and their self-righteousness.  To make the point here a just a few ways he summarizes some of the differences.

Religion Gospel
“I obey; therefore, I’m accepted.” “I’m accepted; therefore, I obey.”
Motivation is based on fear and insecurity. Motivation is based on grateful joy.
I obey God in order to get things from God. I obey God to get God – to delight in and resemble him.

We need to admit to the problem: through religion we substitute ourselves for God, i.e. “trying to be our own savior by obedience to God’s laws”.  As Paul forcefully states:  21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21). 

So, it comes down to the question of whether you are a “religious Christian” or a “true Christian” who’s foundation is built on the gospel of grace.   You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  (Galatians 5:4).  There is only one who warrants our fanatic devotion, the one whose grace alone is sufficient for us.  Be a fanatical Gospel Christian who is motivated by grateful joy and who obeys because you are accepted, and because you delight in God.

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