More than a Fan

{Philippians 1:9-11; NLT}

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

In my dresser drawers are shirts and sweatshirts that bear the logos of my favorite teams: the Boston Celtics, the Denver Broncos, and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Why do I wear these shirts? I wear them because I want the world to know the teams I follow, and to associate myself with them. This is especially true when they are winning.

We should never treat our relationship with God like following our favorite sports team.

It is true that we should be will to let the world know that we are Christians. Scripture tells us that we are not to be ashamed of God or His message of love and forgiveness, but declaring our love for Jesus isn’t as easy as buying a cheesy Christian t-shirt (I have worn my share). Our relationship with God is seen more by how we live then it is by what we say.

This is why John wrote; “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6; NLT). The apostle John clearly states that if we claim to have a relationship with God, then it should influence the way we live our lives. We are to live our lives the way Jesus lived his life.

In the prayer for spiritual formation Paul prayed for the Philippians he focused on two areas of growth.

  1. Paul prayed that their love would grow. Remember, love is the central command of Christianity. It is our love for God, and for each other, that marks us as Christians (John 13:35). For love to be actualized it needs to be put into action. We can talk about love all day long, but it is when we act on the feeling of love that the people around us experience love.
  2. Paul prayed that their knowledge and discernment would grow. Each and every day we are faced with different circumstances and situations. While there are some that are similar, no two situations are exactly alike. That is why knowledge and discernment are important. They give us the wisdom we need to navigate the circumstances of life so we can love like Jesus loved.

Paul described a life growing in love and discernment as a blameless life. It is blameless, not because we no longer sin, but because we are becoming more like Jesus. Through our actions we are associated with God, not because of the name we wear, but because of the way we live.

Living a life of discerning love enables us to achieve the  goal of honoring God. When we demonstrate the character of God in the world we bring Him glory and honor.

Sometimes we think honoring God is about cheering Him on, like we do with our favorite team. So we go to worship and raise our hands and sing with tears in our eyes, and we take stands to declare that we agree with God on this particular subject.

Though we might be cheering real loud, the love and discernment that should characterize our lives is missing. We actually end up dishonoring God rather than honoring Him, because the way we live does not line up with God’s character.

When we are a fan of a sports team it doesn’t really matter how we live, because all we are doing is telling the world we are a fan of that particular team. When we claim to be Christians it matters a great deal how we live, because we have the responsibility to show the world the character of God. We accomplish that primarily through the way we love people.

Being a Christian is more than just choosing the right team to cheer for,  it is choosing the right person to honor. We honor God by following Jesus. This means we don’t want to simply be fans of Jesus, but we want to be followers of Jesus.

Questions to consider:

  • In what ways have you been a fan, rather than a follower, of Jesus?
  • Why are love and discernment so important? Are those things you pray for as you seek to mature in faith?
  • How can honor God?
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