As the holidays approach every year, first Thanksgiving, and then the Christmas shopping season, you would have to have lived in a cave to have not seen the change in television commercials promoting sales, early hours of bargain hunting, and even stores open on Thanksgiving Day and midnight on Black Friday. The national retailers look to finish strong after a mediocre sales year with a flurry of activity, and they already know that the time and money spent in advertising is going to reach consumers that are ready, willing and able to make excuses to spend money! It’s time to go Christmas shopping to get out of the doldrums. I want to save money, so I need to spend money! You know the drill.
The retailers spend money for advertising because they anticipate that their potential customers will resemble the woman in the red jump suit who is working out at the store lifting packages with one arm as if they are barbells, circling the dates on a calendar in anticipation of Black Friday for an early morning shopping fest while she flexes her muscles. She also screams with delight as she reads the circular loaded with deals. The stores want to see you spend money during the Christmas season as if you are in a state of frenzy. They want shopping fanatics.
A fanatic, by the way, does not mean that you have to have a screw loose or that you are missing a few cards from the deck. A fanatic means that you are a person who has a significant or even extreme amount of enthusiasm for something, such as in politics, or even, of course, religion. We have seen extremism associated with both politics and religion, and most of us know when that extremism goes beyond reasonable sensibilities. This is also evident when we look at fans (which is short for fanatic) of sports teams and the behaviors that are associated with being a fan. Many sports fans will readily associate alcohol with being a fan, and we know that it doesn’t often end well when there is too much booze for sports fans.
I’m a sports fan, for sure. I also love to watch college football, and I also love roller skating, and I’m a big fan of my wife, of course! But all of those subjects, even my wife, have to be viewed from the proper perspective. My passion for life itself must be derived from the one that gives the reason for me to be passionate for life…this is the zeal for Jesus Christ that every Christian should experience.
My point to all of this is that you do not have to be crazy to be a fanatic. You can be a fanatic for Christ, for example, and not be characterized as a Bible Thumper, or as a Holy Roller, or “Goody Two Shoes,” or some other term that implies more of what are perceived as negative character traits than positive ones. You can be a fanatic for Christ by living enthusiastically, positively, and pointedly for all of the things that Christ represents.
Please note that, while I have nothing against the word “fan,” the shortened version of the word “fanatic,” the two words come across with different interpretations. To be a fan of something is OK, such as a fan of a musician or of a sports team, while being a fanatic implies even more of a commitment and a passion for something. Given this conclusion, is your commitment to Christ more of that as a fan, or is it more like a fanatic for Christ?
When you have a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you can begin to see what it really means to be a fanatic for Christ. Our challenge, especially as we are reminded over and over during the Christmas season about how Jesus is the reason for the season, is to see Christ in such a way where, to the average Christian, He means more to that person than just that of a favorite football team or sports figure…more than a favorite band or artist…more than an actor or performer. The name of Jesus should fire you up in such a way where His name truly is above every name!
How do we capture that zeal, that passion for Christ that is missing at times? The answer is in our relationship with Christ. Our relationship with Christ will determine how we live and breathe for Christ, which others will see in our actions as we live for Christ at a high level. Our life for Christ, in our relationship with Christ, helps us to build and develop relationships with others through Christ, and wins people over to Christ! It is all accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, but we must always remember that the Spirit works through the believer that trusts in Him and relies upon His wisdom. The love and trust for Christ is a magnet that attracts others who want to know more about Him directly to you!
To be a fanatic for Jesus Christ requires repetition and practice of an effective Christian lifestyle. It requires practice because we have natural opposition to this effort because of our own fleshly nature, and because Satan does not want us to be successful in this lifestyle. We have to overcome the things that are not healthy for us, especially sin, and move towards the things that create a bond with Jesus Christ.
First, being a fanatic for Christ means that we must forsake sin.
The night is nearly over, and the daylight is near, so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk with decency, as in the daylight: not in carousing and drunkenness; not in sexual impurity and promiscuity; not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no plans to satisfy the fleshly desires.
Forsaking sin means more than just turning away from it. Our attitude should be the same attitude that God has about sin. He hates it.
For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil cannot lodge with You.
Just as God has nothing to do with sin, He also wants us to have the same mindset. Remember, because we are in the flesh, we must have an attitude that hates sin, because our flesh desires it greatly. We can’t have a zeal for Christ if we do not forsake sin.
Next, a fanatic for Christ must have a heart of forgiveness. Just as God has forgiven our sins because of our faith and trust in Him, we also must have a heart of forgiveness for others.
For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.
This includes treating others the way that Christ would have you to treat them, without malice or holding grudges.
And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
After forsaking sin and having a heart of forgiveness, a person who is a true fanatic for Christ is one who relishes in fellowship. There is a desire to seek out others to share the passion that you are living out in Christ. After all, it is God’s desire that each and every one of us shares the gospel with others (Matthew 28:19-20). Our fellowship in Christ through the Holy Spirit gives us the confidence and the ability to fellowship with others. Your message that you communicate to others is in line with the verses from 1 John 1:3:
1 John 1:3
What we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may have fellowship along with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
The fanatic for Christ does not chase persons away in fellowship; on the contrary, he or she draws people nearer to where they are comfortable in relationships of friendship. Friendship is what allows for sharing, caring for others, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work deeply in the lives of those who are seeking the Lord.
A quick recap—a person who is a fanatic for Jesus Christ must readily forsake sin, forgive others, fellowship with others, develop friendships, and finally, focus on the strength, direction, and power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit enables us with the ability to withstand pressures and difficulties, and also fortifies us with energy when it is most needed. Our focus, in order for the Spirit to work through us, is to listen to remain obedient to Jesus Christ’s commands:
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.
The Holy Spirit is always available to the believer in Jesus Christ. The more that we focus on the Spirit, the more we learn about the abundant life that we truly have in Jesus Christ. It is that life of abundance that creates the fanatic for the one who loves Jesus and lives for Jesus.
Are you a fanatic for Christ? Is your zeal for the One who gave everything for you? Think about what it truly means to live a life of enthusiasm for your Lord and Savior. It should be a life of passion where you turn away from the things that ruin your fellowship with Christ and trust in His Word.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.