Don't cheer for Jesus. Follow Him.

The most significant time of the year has arrived: College Football season. Just in case you doubt that claim, consider these facts for a moment:
  • For the 2013 College Football season, the average attendance for FBS games was 45,815 per game. That's more people than live in 98% of towns in America (I don't know if that percentage is actually true, but it sounds pretty good).
  • Almost 50,000,000 people attend College Football games each year. That's 50 million. That doesn't even come close to the number of people who watch the games on TV. 
  • The University of Michigan football stadium has a capacity of 110,000 but you can cram 115,000 in it if you want to. That makes this stadium the 236th largest city in America.
Numbers don't lie. Americans love their college football and follow their teams with a passion. Fans will drive long distances to sit on horribly uncomfortable bleachers in horrific weather to shout themselves hoarse for college players who they will never meet in hopes that they can push a piece of leather across a white stripe more than the other team's eleven players. That's just nuts, but we love our college football.

Did you know that each year after the Auburn/Alabama football game there is at least one homicide attributed directly to the outcome of that game? Usually it's a fan of the winning team that gets shot or stabbed as a result of being a little too obnoxious about his team's big victory, but nonetheless that's pretty nuts too. Some teams' followers are just so hardcore.

And then there are followers of Jesus. You can count them every Sunday morning as pull into the parking lots of churches across America and file into their regular seats in the worship center. No car flags or fanfare, although many of them dress a little bit nicer for the occasion and will refrain from any unwholesome language during the hour or so during which the service takes place. At many churches you might get called a name like "brother" and usually side hugs abound. On any given Sunday morning it's not too hard to spot someone who looks to be a follower of Jesus.

Sad thing is, it's getting harder to identify followers of Jesus on Monday through Saturday.

I can't tell you how many college football fans I see on a daily basis, and I don't even live in SEC country where it's against the law to NOT cheer for your team. Whether it's car flags, bumper stickers or car magnets, logo t-shirts, or just the constant verbal bravado that I hear, it's not hard to spot a college football fan.

Yet every day I see Christians who look and act just like everyone else, myself included. Our style and choice of dress doesn't set us apart and our words don't give away the fact that we know Jesus at all.

There's nothing quite like the thrill of being at a college football game. The anticipation at kickoff, the choreographed cheers from thousands of people, the euphoria of a touchdown. And then you can't help but talk about the game for several days after, recounting every score and big play that you saw. Man, that game literally changed your life!

The church service was great this past Sunday - the music was worshipful, the fellowship sweet, and the message challenging. But for some reason, you don't seem to have much interest in talking about your experience on Monday with your friends and co-workers. Jesus, the object of your Sunday worship, doesn't seem to be much of game changer for you the rest of the week..

Why is it so easy for us to follow our favorite sports team and cheer for them as if our lives depended on it, yet we can't seem to maintain enough spiritual momentum after Sunday to even acknowledge that we know Jesus? Jesus could care less if you are a fan of His. He's looking for followers.

Sorry if this assessment seems harsh, but then again I'm not sorry. When it comes to matters of faith, many Christians have gotten their lives so out of balance that their relationship with Jesus looks more like a casual acquaintance on Facebook as opposed to the life-saving, soul-changing gift from God that it is.

To quote Kyle Idleman: We have settled on becoming mere fans of Jesus instead of being truly committed followers of Him. And that's not okay. People are so afraid of having to give up stuff or miss out on something that they simply stop trying. Sure, they wear the title of "follower of Christ" but that's about it. Jesus didn't come and die to make you happy. He came and died to give you life. That's worth following.

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