No one likes a bandwagon fan.
I started pulling for the Oregon Ducks when I was, eh, about 7 or so. They were only a little good. Chip Kelly was new as the OC, and then they started really balling. Oregon quickly became a team to talk about again. They were scoring points left and right. About 2-3 years into my fandom, I was thinking, “Dang, good choice for a team.” They made a National Championship game (and, uh…. lost…). But the Quack Attack was back, baby.
Then, literally everyone started pulling for them— which got me heated.
Fast-forward a couple more years, Oregon is back to winning and losing, and no one seems to be claiming them again. It’s just me, pulling for a west coast team by myself. Then bang! They’re back in the spotlight. Mariota has resurrected the Ducks from the dead. And, suddenly, everyone is a fan again. I’m triggered once more. It is hurtful to be a real fan and watch all these people go up and down with their loyalty. You don’t just abandon a team because they aren’t playing well. It’s back to the basics again here in 2018. It will be a decent year, but the Ducks won’t shock the world, probably. If you’re only pulling for dream seasons, then go be a ‘Bama fan. I mean, these are my boys! I’m basically on the team! Don’t play them like that, you know? Anyway…
I play football with some twins here from Alabama. And they are real-deal Alabama fans. I mean, they know team history, player names, former coaches. They are committed Crimson Tiders. You can’t really make any unvalidated claims to them— they’ll shoot them down. Lots of other people? No chance. Which makes you think, “Wow, people only like Alabama because they win games,” which isn’t fair to the twins. I’ve faced this as a Ducks fan. “Well, you only like Oregon because of their uniforms.” Hahaha—false. They had hideous uniforms when I first started pulling for them. And they were basically ugly until the Rose Bowl in 2012, when they busted out the first-ever chrome football helmet. No, I pulled for them because no one else did. And I wanted to be weird and different. Now, I have an emotional attachment to the team. But, I digress.
Here’s the issue: bandwagon fans are, well…. inauthentic. People who like their teams like their teams. They don’t want you to show up, last-minute, and hop on the success of their team. You weren’t there for the pain of a bad season or a big injury or a crushing loss. And, let’s be real— we see this in the Church.
The Church is littered with bandwagon fans.
Some people only want to be a part of the faith when the season is going well or when its convenient. They come to Easter and Christmas services. They are in FCA. They have some vague worship lyrics on their Twitter pages. They conveniently don’t cuss in certain situations. They show up to things they need to. They talk the talk. There are plenty of people doing this on a college campus. It seems like I’m literally one of about 6 people on this campus that don’t want to get hammered and sleep around. I’m like Tom Hanks in Castaway, and my Bible is Wilson. But on the contrary, I’m one of a very big number of people who would call themselves Christians. It’s legitimately offensive. I know Jesus Christ. I know what the Cross means. I take it very personally for someone to say, “Yeah, I like that guy. But, no, I’m not going to listen to Him. I’m going to do what I want to do.” Don’t get me wrong— lust, negativity, impatience, arrogance, doubt, etc.— I screw up just as much as the rest of these people. But I’m most certainly not a bandwagon fan of Jesus Christ. I don’t have the stones to do that. I’m not so bold as to challenge the Creator of my breath to a game of seeing how much I can get away with because I know Him. And I know what He thinks about that. I know the stats, the past seasons. I know the program.
Jesus tells us, “If a brother sins, rebuke him, and if a brother repents, forgive him.” You call yourself a Christian? Fantastic. Guess what that means for us? We get to— no, wait— have to hold each other accountable. Salvation is a moment. Justification is a process. Our lives are supposed to progressively grow closer to the Image of Christ. We no longer live, but Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Get off of the bandwagon. There is nothing bandwagon about it. There are two camps— with Him, or without Him. With Jesus, you get a working knowledge of your own inequity. You get a full picture of what the world truly is— broken. You get to see Hell (a real place, by the way @PresbyterianReligionDept) vividly because you recognize very keenly that having Jesus saves you from its horrible and unadulterated grasp. With Jesus, you understand what life will be like to walk with Him— hard. Jesus is divisive (Matthew 10:34-39). Jesus is costly (Matthew 8:18).
But, oh my goodness… He is so worth it. With Jesus, you get to see that life isn’t what it seems. You get to see that every situation is in His hands, so no need to fret (Exodus 14:14). You get to see hope. You get to see that sin can talk a long walk off of a very short pier (Colossians 1:13-14). With Jesus, you know the end of the story. Without Him… you don’t even know half the story.
Romans 3:23/6:23— I am a sinner. I deserve death. I’m dead in my sin already.
Psalm 7:11— God is mad at me everyday because of my sin.
John 3:16— He, however, gave me a way out. He came down, for no reason other than grace and mercy, to give me a cop out.
Ephesians 2:8-9/Romans 12:2— I’ve been saved from certain Hell by Christ. I’m now alive in Christ, and I’m asked and called to live according to His will for my life.
Matthew 28:20— And He will never, ever leave me by myself.
Get off of the bandwagon. Get off of it. You truly don’t want to be on it. If you aren’t a real fan of a team, real fans can tell— every time. When you aren’t in the Church, it’s not necessarily that simple. I can’t judge your heart, but I can most certainly judge your fruit (Matthew 7:15-21). There is sometimes reason to suggest that if fruit doesn’t match your claim then perhaps the Book of Life doesn’t have your name (clever, right?). But don’t get caught on the last day. Don’t do it. Don’t get to the end of that season conversation and realize you never kept up with the team. Don’t get to the end of this life thinking that your spiritual security is good because you think you’re a Child of God. There is no thinking. There is only knowing. Jesus will drop the bomb on you, and tell you very simply, “I don’t know you,” (Matthew 7:21-23). That will hurt. Big facts.
Get off of the bandwagon. Get on the wave. Dive head first into this fandom, this culture, this history, this tradition— this Hope.
Don’t waste your time or anyone’s time being a bandwagon fan. Own your team. Own the colors. Own the wins. Own the losses. Own the players. Own the labels. Own the team.
Don’t waste your eternity being a bandwagon fan. Own the Bible. Own the virtues. Own the process. Own the stances. Own the cost. Own the reality. Own the hope. Own the mission. Own the people. Own the Church. Own the lifestyle.
Own the Nails.