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By Grant Everly

I am a huge fanatic. When it comes to sports, I’m a dedicated and zealous watcher, especially when it comes to cheering for my most favorite teams. At iMPACT on Sunday we closed the Crazy Love series by discussing the idea of being obsessed with God. The concept is one that has convicted me, but also given me a lot to wrestle with.

One of my favorite sports memories was when a friend and I went to a Bears game. It was the first and only NFL game I’ve ever been to, and it was a tremendous experience. There was one sequence of events I remember especially well and now find particularly applicable to a more spiritual realm. There was a play in which Bears returnman Devin Hester ran a kickoff back for a touchdown. What I remember so distinctly is my reaction to his return, and the reaction of the rest of the fans at Soldier Field. Without any regard for what I looked like to those around me, I stood up and began yelling at the top of my lungs as it became apparent Devin Hester was going to score. As someone who’s not necessarily prone to show emotion outwardly, this type of reaction was a bit peculiar. The even crazier thing was that as I stood up, the entire crowd, almost in unison, did likewise and everyone began to cheer wildly. There were no reservations and worries about how we would look. We were fanatics.

When I look at my life and how I act while worshipping and following after God, I often find myself staying seated in the stadium of Christianity, numbing any urges I may have to stand up and cheer. I nullify the zeal that begins to stir in me in regard to worshipping God. I don’t know why I do this. Perhaps it’s because I’m afraid of how I’ll be perceived; I wonder if those in the seats next to me will stand up and cheer with me.

As I’ve compared my passion for something as futile as sports with my passion for God, I’ve found that I’m rarely as vulnerable with and committed to the God of the universe as I ought to be; the idea of being a fanatic of Christ has convicted me. In all honesty the idea of being a fanatic for the God of the universe is quite frightening. When I think of a fanatic I don’t necessarily think of someone who is logical and who has calculated what they’re doing. I think of someone who has a tendency to ride the mob mentality present in other fans and not really cheer out of a personal longing, but more so out of a sense of adrenaline-driven euphoria. I want my faith to be well tried, articulated and from a very honest place, yet I also want to be a fanatic and not hold back in my pursuit of Christ. I’ve really struggled to reconcile these two concepts. That is until I applied the metaphor of being a sports fan again.

I am a diehard UNC Tar Heel fan and have been for quite some time. My fandom isn’t flighty; I stick by UNC regardless of their record. I’m not a fan because of the exhilarating feelings I get when UNC wins a close game. I’m not a fan because those around me are fans. I’m a fan because I love UNC, and after many years of cheering for them, I’ve found them to be the best choice for me. You could say my fanaticism for UNC is characterized by devotion, consistency, and articulation, not infatuation and capriciousness. I hope the same is true of my faith.

While I grow in my love for Christ and become more of a fanatic for Him, I don’t  have to compromise on the more brain-driven aspects of my faith. I can be obsessed with following Christ, but not be overcome by a form of spiritual infatuation and flightiness. In Romans 12:11 Paul says:

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep [our] spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”

Today, let’s get even more zealous for God than we do about the teams for which we rise to our feet and cheer. If we’re going to be fanatics, let us be fanatics for the Head of the ultimate team.

Grant Everly is a junior at Warren Township High School and regularly attends church with his family and iMPACT on Sunday nights. He plays soccer, enjoys sports and has passion for learning more about Christ and growing in Him.

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