I was chatting with De Wen (a student in our ministry) yesterday and he made a comment that really resonated with me: “God wants friends, not fans.”
A lot of us settle for being fans. I often settle for being a fan. But there’s so much more available — like Abraham, we can be friends with God (Isaiah 41:8, James 2:23). As he did to the disciples, Jesus yearns to say to us, “I no longer call you servants but friends” (John 15:15).
But the temptation to be a mere fan is strong. In Jimmy Tate’s memorable phrase, we substitute praise for prayer. We allow the life of the church to displace our own spiritual journey and we live vicariously through the pastor’s insights or the worship leader’s zeal. Like a dutiful fan, we turn out for the game (Sunday morning) and cheer at all the appropriate places. But we don’t call the coach after the game to congratulate him or shoot the breeze. We don’t invite him over for a victory bbq. That’s the stuff a friend would do.
We’re just fans, so we go home and talk about how great the game was.
And we miss out on something wonderful.