Are you just a fan or a fanatic 3/7/16pm

Acts 26:24-25, “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”
I love basketball. I must admit I am getting younger because like a baby learning to walk I am actually learning to find some coordination with my moves every time I get to hold a basketball these days. I wasn’t that exceptional but I just cannot play anymore as I once could. However, I love sports just the same. Any sports for that matter, although my favourite is basketball. I am actually still sad my NBA team the Golden State Warriors lost to the Cavaliers.
I may even be called a fanatic when it comes to basketball. As you all know, ironically enough, basketball is the National Sport of the Philippines despite known be a country of “pototers” or midgets. Here in Australia, mostly love footie, the AFL. The MCG and all other huge sporting complexes in Australia are always full during footie games. The MCG alone is designed to accommodate over 100T patrons. Rain or shine, when there is a game fans flock in droves to watch their chosen team. By the way, most of these people are more than just fans. They are fanatics.
There is a difference between a fan and a fanatic.
– Fan – one who is enthusiastic about a sport, pastime or performer
– Fanatic – unreasonably enthusiastic or overly zealous giving beyond what is reasonable.
I’ve heard a sports fan in the U.S. who died years ago. He instructed his wife and children that when he dies, all his loved sports memorabilia would be buried with him. So when he died, he wore his team’s jersey in his coffin, his watch with his team’s logo, his beer holder, anything that represented his team. Banners and so forth were all inside his coffin. Sports fanatics are not shy about foolish things they do to represent their teams; so, why are Christians shy about witnessing for Christ?
I have read this week about a church in America where my friend, Pastor Than Aparre is there right now. This church is 24/7 open for prayer or Bible teaching to cater to everyone who works in different shifts. This church has an ongoing class on soul-winning and practical application of what is learn immediately before going home or after, whichever is practical to individual members. Every single member passes through the church before going home or before going to work to see who can possibly help or reach for Christ in the community.
In Cebu, Dr Armie Jesalva, my father in faith is one of the best known soul winner in the world. He is fearless and bold as a lion. He is more than a fan of Christ. He is a fanatic for Christ. What is the difference in his life that propelled him to become a fanatic for Christ instead of just a fan of Christ? He was a well-known Medical Doctor, patients were daily queuing a long line to see him with their children as he was a Paediatrician. Many of his patients received the Lord and became members of Bible Baptist Church Cebu. I myself was won to the Lord in his clinic in 1971. Membership of that church grew to thousands.
He was a fanatic for Christ. In Acts 26, reading verses 24-25, Paul is speaking to Festus, and Festus declared apostle Paul “mad.” Paul downplayed the accusation, but the word mad is an interesting word. The word actually comes from the word, “mania” and means utterly excited, persistent, obsessively enthused.
It is interesting that a fanatic will not actually agree that his behaviour is excessive, but to those around him, it is very evident that he does things that normally no other Christian does. There is always a difference between a fan and a fanatic. Wouldn’t it be a great testimony if the people around us thought of us here at MBBC as fanatical people regarding our walk with the Lord? That would be some height of compliments if someone would make a comment to another that we are fanatics to Christ.
I became a fan to Richmond Tigers since I met a Tiger fanatic in the Police Academy. Once in a while I come with him when he invites me to a game but I have never been a fanatic where I would put everything away just to be there. If a game falls on his work schedule he would always find ways to get someone to cover his shift, like his attitude is, I must be there.
There must be some criteria for someone to be called a fanatic. What would that be for someone fanatic for Christ? Allow me to give you parallel evidences of a sports fanatic and a Christian fanatic?
1. Sports fanatics are very faithful, they’re very open with their identify.
They will buy hats, shirts, socks and even undergarments to identify with their team. They will enter into enemy territory, a danger zone, wearing their team’s logo. A fanatic is never shy about representing their team. So, question – Are we shy about letting others know about who we represent? Do you carry your Bibles for people to know whom you stand for? Do you look forward to teaching of God’s words in bible Studies, Sunday School, Sunday Sermon with anticipation? Do you pray for the preacher to speak God’s Word with power and conviction? Could your pastor be at peace counting on your attendance?
2. Sports fanatics are never afraid to spend big.
They are not tight-fisted or miser; no, not in the least. In America a real fanatic will spend $5000 at the drop of a hat to attend the Super Bowl where their team is represented. Money seems to be no object for a real fanatic. They spend money to get autographs, banners or whatever artefacts to hang them in their walls or showroom proudly demonstrating their fanaticism. Hey, maybe I am only a fan and not a fanatic!
However, you ask the average Christian to return their tithe to the Lord and give their offering, they think you have now crossed the line. I can really understand why the Lord loves a cheerful giver. The giver who gives above the tithe and see no problem in doing so is one considered cheerful. No one can be cheerful being miser to God. In fact, he does it so cheerfully because he knows Who he is giving it to and for. He is a fanatic for Christ! He will tithe, give offerings, and give to missions. He admits he cannot out-give God.
It isn’t how much he gives, but how much he has left after he gives. He, like the little widow woman whom our Lord watched, gives till it hurts. Are you a fanatic for Christ?
3. Sports fanatics are tireless.
They do not rest. Many of them travel hours to see their team play. You will often hear stories how some of them travel interstate where their team travels to in order to have a part in their victories. Parents of children involved in sports will help little junior to sell candy in order to raise funds for jerseys, and they have no problem with the time or work involved. Many of them will even take time off work to better their child’s cause. They do not care who gets the credit as long as the funds are raised.
Wouldn’t it be great if folks at MBBC wouldn’t care who gets the credit for what is done? Remember, it is God who gives the increase anyway, and everything we do for Him is done because of Him. So why should we even think of doing something for human recognition? A fanatic gives testimony of things accomplished because of what God has done through them, and not because of what they have done. A fanatic does not complain about the time he/she spends for the Lord. He must have balance in his life and home, but time spent for the Lord is time well spent.
4. Sports fanatics are very loyal and will not switch.
A fanatic roots for the team, win or lose. If Collingwood would move to Sydney, a team fanatic will still root for the team, right? They would not necessarily pack up and move to another city themselves, although some would, but they will remain for that team.
Our allegiance is to Christ, and because of the loyalty to Him, we should not drop out of church for any reason. Paul himself said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) My allegiance is to the King of kings, and because of that, I will not blame Him for things that my be difficult in my life. God is always good and at all times.
5. Sports fanatics are very passionate, they do not give up.
A sports fanatic never gives up on their team. Even when they die, they want their coffin draped with banner of his team. When my neighbour died in Mooroolbark, the song played at his funeral was the Collingwood theme song. I remember the same song he played during his in his past birthdays. A fan will head out to the car way before the end but a fanatic would be the last one until all players are gone. A Christian fanatic will not quit on their Lord. He may have feelings of quitting that overcome him, but there is something ingrained in his Christian DNA that will not allow him to quit. The Word says, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”
In closing, I don’t know if I would be called a Christian fanatic or not, but I do know that my testimony is not what it should be unless someone from the world would look at my life and declare me a fanatic. Paul’s speech was condemned by Festus, declaring that he was “mad.” Paul was a Christian fanatic, and it is high time we as Christians we’re called fanatics as well. May the Lord help us!

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