God’s Crowd

Image courtesy of Marcello Casal Jr, Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Marcello Casal Jr, Wikimedia Commons

No matter the sport, no matter the season, we hear their title. In conversations with friends in the office as well as all over social media, men and women alike express their disgust at their interest and enthusiasm. Supporters of the losing side use them as scapegoats when frustrated. This self-created group especially has taken center stage in the last few days as the World Cup captivates audiences across around the globe. You know who I’m talking about…bandwagon fans.

These are people who flock out of thin air to support a sports team as it marches forward in a tournament. They rush out to the local supercenter the day of the big game to buy their very first team merchandise. They scout the web to find out who is on the roster and shout the first names of the players from their living rooms as if they are friends. On Facebook, they use exclamation points like Elaine Benes to express how much they supposedly love their squad. They act as if they have been there all along, much to the anger of long-term enthusiasts. These enthusiasts are the fans who annually set Google Calendar reminders for events like the squad’s initial week of voluntary workouts and spend the offseason perfecting their response time for the crowd wave.

“Bandwagon fans” has become a dirty term in the world of sports. We draw a line down the middle of the court to say who is a real fan and who is just a pretender.

The insiders are those who have been standing alongside the team all along. They can recall what they had for breakfast on the day of the biggest victory in team history and tell you the names of the children of the bench players. Through the good and the bad, they have been there, giving all they have to the club for the win.

On the opposite end of fandom is this group of mudblooded bandwagoners. These outsiders are new on the scene with lots of energy, but without the historical knowledge and heart of the fanatics. They show up when the things get good to cheer with the regulars, yet in the eyes of the superfans, are lesser than and will abandon the team as soon as the tournament run comes to an end.

Interestingly enough, the New Testament has a few things to say about bandwagon fans and how they are viewed: God welcomes them to the crowd. Saul was a Christian rival. He had a mission to bring down the early Church by imprisoning and persecuting the Christ followers. After his Damascus experience, he not only joins these enthusiastic Christians, but becomes the life of the party. He is chosen by God to become a foundational figure in spreading the message of Christ near and far.

Jesus too tells the story of a bandwagon fan. He shares of a son that goes off with his part of his father’s property and quickly squanders it away. When he returns home, he expects to be scorned and disowned by his family, but instead is welcomed home by his father to a championship celebration, receiving a jersey, championship ring, and team shoes to top off the excitement of the moment.

Sometimes lifelong Christians, young and old, become protective of what they have. They may get defensive at the arrival of these fervent newbies that seem so naïve and green. These longtime believers run the risk of being the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son as they have been around the block and know what it takes to do church. There, however, is great energy and excitement that comes to the body of Christ when we welcome these new devotees to the crowd. With them come new eyes and perspectives that continue to make us a greater global multitude because in Jesus there is no more Jew or Greek, male or female, blue hair or Jesus Freak. We’re all equal in the eyes of God.

The game is already underway; pull up a chair for the loud guy across the room with the freshly painted face for he too is a member of God’s crowd.

Carson_Laura_Foushee_c_sm_for webCarson and Laura Foushee are Cooperative Baptist Field Personnel living in Kanazawa, Japan. Both natives of North Carolina, Carson and Laura met at McAfee School of Theology after graduating from Elon University (Carson) and N.C. State University (Laura). Carson’s passion for global missions and Laura’s passion for the local church have blended together as they serve in Japan through English language education and through Kanazawa Baptist Church as co-pastors of its international congregation.

They can be reached by email at clfoushee@thefellowship.info. Feel free to also to check out their website and the Kanazawa International Baptist Church website.

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