Summary: The early church was devoted to the fellowship - i.e. their local body of believers - what does this mean for us?
Devoted to the Fellowship
February 12, 2012
Let me start this morning by reading the Super Bowl translation of our primary text for this morning.
Giants 2:42 (NFLV) – They were fans of the Giants story, and were always together with other Giants fans for the Big Game, and shared tailgate delicacies, as well as fervent pleas to the god of their choice for a Giants win.
As I thought about this morning’s message, I couldn’t resist the thought of how we can learn something from secular worship. Now, of course, all Giants fans, or all sports fans, are not worshippers. Those of you who know me know I enjoy sports, and would classify myself as a fan for my favorite teams.
So, this morning isn’t a slam against sports, or sports fans in general. But can we agree that the national holiday – or should we say, holy day – of Super Sunday, illustrates something about what it means to be a fan, or better yet, a fanatic, about something?
Think of it. And not just in the context of Giants fans – we can find the same level of fan interest in different sports, college and pro, and even high school, almost anywhere in the country. There are clearly over-the-top and bad examples of this, but is there hidden in these ideas good examples of what it means to be devoted to something seen clearly in the sports fanaticism among some elements of our culture?
Why look to secular worshippers to learn something? Well, how often do many churches look in some ways like gatherings of Giants fans – or for that matter, OU fans, or OSU fans? I’m not talking about the yelling and screaming at the ballgame. I’ve heard and always hated that analogy - You know – the one that says: you’ll get all excited at a ballgame and shout and jump up and down, but why can’t you do that at church?
I think that’s a bad analogy. Do you really want to compare coming into the presence of God,where we give praise to the Maker of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to a ballgame?!
It’s fine to get excited about worship, but it’s also OK to worship quietly in church, and then shout at a ballgame. That says nothing about one’s faith, or the reality or real devotion of one’s worship style.
I’m talking about other things that illustrate someone’s devotion to their team. As we think through what, for example, a sports fan can be like, let’s relate this to our faith and practice, and see if there are any applications. So be thinking with me as we work through this.
Of course, the word fan is derived from the word fanatic. Fanatic is defined as:
a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics. Devotee is a milder term than any of the foregoing, suggesting enthusiasm but not to the exclusion of other interests or possible points of view: a jazz devotee.
The definition of fan is: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator - an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit) as in “science-fiction fans” probably short for fanatic First Known Use: 1682
We all know someone like this. Perhaps we are someone like this about something. With this person, everyone he meets knows about his love for The Team. He can make any conversation - regardless of its content or context - relate to The Team. He can make any interaction become a celebration of the favorite star player. The conversations he starts are about The Game.
What’s more, fans want to look like their heroes. They wear their jerseys. They buy the products their heroes endorse. They watch television shows breaking down every angle of their play. They want to know the details of their personal lives. Sports fans also attempt to pass their love of team on to their children. Don’t we see this? We see it of sports, but also of celebrities, or hobbies or activities.
Let me tell you about another group of fans. These fans, or devotees, were passionate, too. If you knew them, you knew they were devoted to their team – you probably didn’t have to ask.
Their conversations with anyone they knew often turned quickly to their love for the team, and especially to the superstar of their team. They wanted to look like their favorite player, too, not externally, as in wearing a jersey, but in attitude and behavior. They wanted their lives to reveal they were part of the team. And they definitely wanted their children to learn love for the team, too. Of course, we’re talking about the very early church. These fans of Jesus, the first Christians, were described this way: