I love college football. To me, few things are more exciting than watching the season unfold each Saturday afternoon during the fall. However, I freely admit that some fans are more devoted to college football than I am. You know the type I’m talking about. These loyal patrons can rattle off obscure and detailed statistics on every team and player in their never-ending quest to predict the outcome of this week’s game. To them, their work is deadly serious. We know these people as “truly devoted fans of the game.”
I also love the church of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of anything more exciting than seeing people’s lives changed by the gospel. Over the years I’ve known a great many Christians who have exhibited marked maturity in their spiritual lives. Again, you know the type. Many of these loyal subjects of Christ’s kingdom will quote Scriptures you’ve never read and go places you’ve never even heard of in their never-ending quest to reach the lost. Their work really IS a matter of life and death. Society knows these people as, “religious fanatics.”
When we are serious about our jobs, our families, and our recreation, the world admires us for our zeal; yet when we seriously try to reach the lost with the saving message of Jesus Christ we are often branded, “fanatics.” Can there be any logic in this? More to the point, can there be any balance in this?
I really believe that one of Satan’s most ingenious tactics is to encourage us to ungodly extremes. Many endeavors, in and of themselves, are not wrong, but when taken to extremes, they might well cost us our souls! Jesus described the lives of many Christians by saying, “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). It’s deceptively easy for us to become so engrossed in the things of this world that God’s word will no longer affect us. That’s a scary proposition!
Christians must lead a life of balance. It’s good to have a job and do it well (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8, Eph. 6:5-8), but to allow our work to keep us from glorifying God is sinful (1 Cor. 10:31, Col 3:17). It’s wonderful to have loved ones, but did Jesus not say that He must still come first in our hearts (Luke 14:26-27)? We can even be sports fans, so long as our zeal and love for Christ are stronger still. Christian balance involves prioritizing our lives and seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness above all things (cf. Matt. 6:33).
Friends, let’s not allow Satan to push us to ungodly extremes. We’re fighting a spiritual war that’s more important than any football or baseball game (cf. Eph. 6:10-17). We’re working for a cause that will outlast and outshine the most brilliant career. We’re part of a family that has been purchased by the blood of the Savior (Eph. 1:7), and that’s a stronger bond than any human blood could ever be.
We exist to win the world for Christ (cf. Matt. 28:18-20). Too many Christians are caught up, “majoring in the minors.” Many of us have made our careers the reason for living. Still more of us see our total preoccupation with recreational activities merely as a harmless pastime. Some preachers spend more time preoccupied with where “Brother X” stands on a particular issue than with preaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). We’ve become fans of the world instead of fanatics for Jesus.
What about you? Are you merely a “fan” of mundane and temporal things, or do you know the joy of a relationship with God? Eternity hangs in the balance! — John Baker