As we wrap up our discussion on the damage that Christians have done to the name of Christ over the centuries, I want to turn a little bit different off a direction. Instead of looking at all the things that we have done wrong, let’s look at what could be. 

In the book, Pastor Keller says this: “However, what if the essence of Christianity is salvation by grace, salvation, not because of what we do but because of what Christ has done for us?…“The people who are fanatics then, are not so because they are too committed to the gospel but because they’re not committed to it enough…They are fanatically courageous and zealous, but they are not fanatically humble, loving, sensitive, empathetic, forgiving or understanding – as Christ was.”

A fanatic is a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for an extreme religious or political cause. When I think of fanatic, there is a specific image that comes to mind. It’s the image of three Ohio State Buckeyes Football fans. They are at every game. They are down close to the field, which means they spend a lot of money on tickets. And they travel to away games. One of them is known as the “Buck-I-Guy”. If you’re an Ohio State Buckeyes fan, you’ve seen these guys at every game for years. They’re living, breathing Buckeyes fanatics. They are extreme, even religious in their zeal for the scarlet and grey. 

Every team has these kinds of fans. We’re pretty big fans, but I’ve never been to a game. So far, the highest my fanaticism for the Buckeyes has taken me is to purchase the sports channels so we can watch the games at home. We watch most of the games, as long as there isn’t a family or church event that conflicts. We’re hoping/planning on going to a game soon when they play a team on the west coast. But that’s not quite the dream. I want to root for them in Ohio Stadium, see the band perform Script Ohio and feel the stadium bounce beneath my feet when they score. At this point, I’m a fan but not a fanatic. I love the team, but I’m not willing to sacrifice our mortgage money to be able to travel to the horseshoe to watch them beat That team up north. 

Then you have our kids. They’re just starting to watch the games with us. Some of them are more interested, but others, like Harper has no real idea what’s going on. She cheers when we cheer. Recently we were watching the Super Bowl, and when we cheered for a good play, she cheered with us, then said, “I have no idea what’s going on! Woo hoo!” She was there, but she wasn’t all in. She got up to go do other things throughout the game, then would come back and cheer when we cheered. 

I think you can see these same three levels of followers of Christ in the church today. We’re all fans. We all wear our Jesus coat or Jesus jersey. We’re all representatives of the cross. A select few of us are the truly sold-out, committed followers. Just like Buck-I-Guy is willing to sacrifice his lifestyle so he can travel to all the games, there are followers of Jesus who are willing to sacrifice everything to make the name of Jesus known. 

Then there are those who are committed, like we are. Those who go to church most every Sunday, as long as something doesn’t conflict. If there is something more important to us, we’ll choose that over church. We’re committed, but we’re not fanatics. Then there are many, the vast majority who kind of care, but would probably rather be doing a hundred other things. But we go because it makes us feel better about ourselves in the moment. 

But, what if we became fanatics. And not just fanatics of our churches, though, that would greatly encourage so many pastors. In fact, if there was a significant portion the moved up into the second group of fans, I know so many pastors would probably feel like a revival was happening in their church. But, what if we became fanatically humble, loving, sensitive, empathetic, forgiving or understanding. What if we we sold out, laid down every thing we could think of to become fanatically sacrificial, kind and compassionate, justice-minded, selfless, servant-hearted, gives not takers, lovers not haters, those who help instead of those who hurt. 

As Keller points out, the reason people have a foul taste in their mouths over Christianity, is because we’ve been fanatics about the wrong things. What if, instead of being fanatics about trying to force our moral standards on a group of unbelievers who don’t have the power of the holy spirit to live up those standards, we became obsessed with being good trees who produce good fruit? What if, not only did we refuse to be the people pointing out the specs in the eyes of others, Christians and non-Christians alike, what if we actually refused to even put ourselves into a higher position than anyone at any point in time and for any reason? What if we were passionate and zealous for humility and self-sacrifice? 

When Paul lists out the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22, he follows it up by saying “Against such things there is no law.” So many Christians are so busy being concerned with laws that our government is making that infringe on our rights as Americans that we’ve totally lost sight of the only law we are supposed to be governed by – the law of love. What if we were less concerned with the laws of America and were fanatics about the law of love. 

I am absolutely convinced that the fruit of the Spirit-  the fruit that is supposed to be produced in the life of the believer through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit – that fruit isn’t for us. I can’t prove it yet scripturally, but I’m convinced that the fruit on the tree of the believer that has been grafted into the vine is there for others. Yes, it’s there for other believers, but it’s also there for non-believers. 

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) The way we love one another is supposed to be our testimony to the world. So, yes, for sure, the fruit of the spirit of love in our hearts is definitely for the believer. But, the early church also had such a reputation among the non-believers around them. They cared so much for the babies that were being discarded into the trash heaps that they adopted them for themselves into their community. They did this regularly enough that they actually got accused of being cannibals and eating the children. They weren’t eating them they were loving them and saving them. 

What if we were so radically committed to Christ and Christian community that the Holy Spirit was constantly producing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control on the branches of our lives? And what if non-believers around us could come up to our tree, without fear or concern and take a piece of that fruit and experience the love of God, the joy and peace of God, the patience, kindness and goodness of God and the faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that we have seen God exhibits in our lives and throughout history? 

Do you know what I think would happen? A radical reversal of everything. People’s image of the church would change, but so much more than that. Our families, neighborhoods, cities, states and country would change too. Because we wouldn’t be fighting for our own rights, we would be zealots for the Kingdom of God which operates on an entirely different operating system than our Americanized version of Christianity. 

What would happen, would be a dramatic shift in life as we know it. And that’s what I want, I hope you do too. 

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