Are You a Follower or a Fanboy?

April 27, 2012

Are you a fan?

I think everyone’s a fan of something.

Maybe you’re a fan of your local sports team. Or maybe it’s that young adult book series. Or that trilogy of movies (plus three more) that everyone should’ve forgotten about twenty years ago.

In my town, we’re all fans of one thing: barbecue.

A funny thing happens when everyone are fans of something. They start to turn into fanboys and fangirls. It starts out innocently enough. You find your favorite restauant or your favorite athlete, and you support them.

But every so slowly, you start to…change. You mutate into some otherworldly creature, some slobbering half-person who yells in public, picks fights, believes and defends ridiculous things. We even start to think we own the things we are fans of.

I think a lot more of us are fanboys and fangirls than we like to admit. Maybe you should go down my handy checklist and see. And maybe…just maybe…you can stop your transformation before it’s too late.

Make Some Noise

Like I said, everyone is my town are fans of barbecue.

Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain came to our town a few months ago to size up our mettle with meat. I had to watch the show this week to see if he did us justice, since he can be kind of a tool.

Last month, I went to see Jim Gaffigan live, which was pretty much the highlight of my existence. He named some barbecue place in town, and everyone, including me, started cheering.

Yes, here I am, yelling in public (something I never do), showing my hearty approval of smoked, sauced meat products.

Jim called us on it. He said, “Yes, I know you all made the barbecue. Give yourselves a hand.”

Our town identifies with food. But the vast majority of us have nothing to do with making it. We just eat it. But we will get medieval on your butt if you try to tell us that another town’s meat is better than ours. See that? We just went from fans to fanboys. Meat does not need us to defend it. It’s just meat.

Maybe we can be excused. We do have the best in the world. Tennessee can suck it.

The Primitive Tribal Religion

Your transformation into fanboy or fangirl has reached a new level when your level of devotion resembles some kind of primitive religion.

Sports guys can be especially guilty of this. Lucky shirts or jerseys to help your team win? Getting drunk and yelling at Buffalo Wild Wings? Honestly, the fervor of Jayhawks fans in this stupid town is so annoying, it really makes the Christians look rather normal.

You and I have nothing to do with sports team. Just like many of us were raised in our religion, most of us pull for the team we were born closest to. That is the saving grace of the Kansas City Chiefs. How many people do you know who pull for a team in a city they have no connection with? Practically none. Those are the kind of people who switch political parties in their forties. They are not to be trusted.

Follower or Fanboy?

Finally, on your way to being a completely delusional fanboy, your life completely revolves around your obsession. You’ve got the T-shirts. You’ve clicked “Like” on the Facebook pages. Maybe you have a fansite, or you just clog your Facebook friends’ news feeds with constant posts until they delete you. You will whoop and cheer in public. You have an elaborate ritual surrounding your obsessions. And just as importantly, you cannot imagine how anyone could disagree with you. You are willing to disparage fans of the other team, product or celebrity that you have no vested investment in. It could not matter less what barbecue, beer, football team, movies, or books I prefer. Yet I…

…Wait. I’m going to have to interrupt myself. Because all that fanboy stuff. It kind of sounds like a lot of us in the church. A lot of Jesus fanboys and fangirls. We’ve got the T-shirts. We have the elaborate ritual. We clicked “Like.”. We sit in the same seats each week. And we’re sure willing to go to bat to defend Jesus’ honor and everything we think he stands for…

…But so much of the time, I haven’t actually invested much at all in Jesus. I think I call myself a follower of Jesus, but I’m really just a fanboy…


What are you? Fan or follower?

And just for fun, what are you a fanboy or fangirl of? What are your really unreasonable, ridiculous obsessions? Any other signs you’re a fanboy we can add to the list?

21 responses to Are You a Follower or a Fanboy?

  1. Hi Matt,

    Once I drove through Dallas on my way someplace else; but I hold a certain admiration for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Other teams just line up bimbos on the sidelines, But the Cheerleaders inspire me to yell in public. (Never mind what I yell).

    When it come to faith, it’s nice to be associated with Jesus. He’s important, so being linked with Him must make me important too. He’s good for namedropping occasions when I want to impress people (the right sort of people, you know).

    My having a personal link with God Almighty really enhances my reputation. How else could I be a Christian writer?


  2. Just so you know, true fanboys (and girls) of “that trilogy of movies” will vehemently deny the existence of the “plus three more.” :)

  3. Your honesty is refreshing, Matt.

    I guess we all have that ‘fanboy’ mentality in us (at least sometimes) when it comes to Christ Jesus.

    He knows what we are. Look at Peter. But He still loves us, anyway.

    Our God will never be a fanboy.

  4. You forgot how some of us morph from fangals to stalkers…. e.g. I don’t talk to Jesus (i.e. Pray) but i will constantly update my facebook page with everything he ever said, buy the bracelet and forward the cute email pictures….

  5. I don’t have a t-shirt, but I do sit in the same seat. I believe it even has a number on it. I’m not much for the out loud cheering. However, I do like to read up on him. I like to talk about him with my other friends who like him, too. But I’m not that good at talking him up with fans of the other teams. Yeah, I guess I’m a fan. I don’t think I’ve reached fangirl status, but I’d like to be a follower.

  6. YEAH! I am fan of Jesus. I follow him on Twitter and Like him on Facebook. I cheer for him at church. I clap when people give testimonies of how they were lost and now they are found or how they had cancer and now it’s gone. There is nothing I would rather do than see Him at work. I get excited about it!!!!!!

    I admit it, I do the same at a Boston Bruins game.

    I think if you are a real fan, you’ll shed a tear or two. I mean when your favorite team drops that ball or gets scored on losing the championship, it’s hard.

    That goes for Jesus too. It is painful to watch others live like he doesn’t exist. It is painful to see the stupidity, the hypocrisy and religiousness without the relationship.

    But there is one more thing. I am willing to die for Jesus, and I wouldn’t even think of it for the Bruins. That’s like super-fan status, don’t you think?

  7. Excellent post. The “team” mentality is one that I think poses a problem in religion, and in politics too — in areas of life that should be about figuring out what’s true, or what’s effective policy, and people’s arbitrary allegiances get in the way of that.

  8. Yes. So true. Often, I’m far more interested in “defending” Christ than in actually living how He taught us to live. Being a fan is easy. Being a follower is not. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. So funny! I enjoyed reading this tonight! I totally get the Jesus-tribe-thing. I feel like this past few years, being out of the church setting in America, has really highlighted just how much the religious culture had begun to define us on so many levels. Currently, we are going to the “church of just five people”– my husband, me and our kids. And it is purer somehow for us to deconstruct so much of the “koolaid” we swallowed.

    Am sharing this on my fb page! Thanks!

  10. John 6:48-68.
    48 I am that bread of life.
    49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
    50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
    51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
    52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
    53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
    54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
    55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
    56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
    57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
    58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
    59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
    60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
    61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
    62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
    63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
    64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
    65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
    66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
    67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
    68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

  11. I work hard at being a follower, though I sometimes fall into the “fan” trap. I have a couple of t-shirts, but no bracelets. I keep managing to lose my cross necklaces (what does that say about me?) and I refuse to put any bumper stickers on my car because I don’t trust my driving to be a good witness to God. I don’t copy the “share if you love Jesus” pictures on Facebook because I really hate when people use guilt to try and coerce action. I do share whatever of God’s word happens to strike my fancy, though. My SIL impressed me years ago with marriage advice to another engaged SIL that seems to be good in all situations: “No one ever wins an argument.”

  12. I think I may be a fan or fanboy of Matt Appling. At this point, with little more than cyber friendship, I guess it’s fanboy. Great post. You write so much of what I want to but better. I love it when someone refers to “we” while talking about their team or faction. I’ve done it. ow many quarters have I played for them–0.

    The thing with Jesus is we could be more of a part of His team if we put aside our fanaticism of our church or pastor or small group, etc and immersed ourselves in Him.

  13. As an ardent fan of barbecue and Jim Gaffigan this post sucked me right in. Great stuff and the analogy between fandom for food or sports vs. religion caught me off guard. I was expecting the more traditional approach of “we should be true fan boys/girls of Jesus instead of fairweather followers”. However, like you point out, blindly and ignorantly making ridiculous fools of ourselves doesn’t do much to make the Gospel appealing.

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