This post originally appeared almost three months ago here on the blog. I believe it is still just as relevant today. My goal is for it to gain some much-needed traction and conversation. Enjoy 🙂
In our culture, it is completely normal to be a fanatic about everything but your faith. I am not talking about an unhealthy form of fanaticism. I am talking about being steadfast in your faith and vocal about your beliefs. Often, when people find out about your beliefs, you are immediately classified as a fanatic. This is usually done in a derogatory, not a complementary sort of way.
It is normal to stand in line for twelve hours to obtain concert tickets to see your favorite performer. It is normal to watch two or more movies a night, every night of the week. It is normal to vicariously live through your favorite actors on Glee and Modern Family. It is normal to have a hobby that does little to progress your maturity. But when it comes down to things that actually matter, you are quickly and furiously, labeled a fanatic.
A while back, I was spending some time with my wife and our friends at the beach. A few people, who happened to be walking by, joined our group. After the initial pleasantries, a controversial conversation ensued. I spent the next thirty minutes answering a deluge of questions regarding Christianity, Faith, Church, The Bible and a host of other related topics. During this time, I was praying like crazy for the Spirit to lead me in making a defense for the hope that I have (1 Pet. 3:15).
Our conversation progressed about various faith ideas and ideologies. When we started talking about Jesus, I told them that I love Jesus more than I love my wife. The group was appalled. In sheer amazement, they turned and looked at my wife. To their look of dismay, she politely smiled and answered: “I Love Jesus more than my husband as well!” I was pleased, they were perplexed. Then came the inevitable. Without even a warning, the F-Bomb was dropped. They said to me that I was an absolute Fanatic. To the best of my spirit-led ability, I reasoned with them from Scripture and explained the basis for my statement.
That night, we concluded the conversation on good terms. I thanked God for the opportunity to share the gospel. The group heard that which they have never heard before. In a way that was unique and enlightening, I hope.
A few weeks ago, I was speaking about the sufficiency of Scripture with another friend. I told him that I believe all Scripture is breathed out by God and originated from God. I said that I do believe that salvation is found in no one else other than Jesus the Christ (Jn. 14:6). I also said that the highest governing authority in my life is the Bible because it testifies about that which God wants me to do in life. Sure enough, the F-Bomb was dropped again. I find it ironic that if I was discussing anything else other than concrete convictions of faith, I would not be labeled a fanatic.
So if you are going to be a fanatic, you might as well be a fascinating one. During my journey of faith, I have learned a few things about being a fanatic. You too can become a fascinating fanatic. If you want your presence to be desired more than a trip to the dentist, here are five ways how you can be a fascinating fanatic for Jesus:
1. Let the Spirit speak through you. Jesus repeatedly told his disciples to not worry about what to say, how to say it and when to say it (Matt. 10:19; Mk 13:11; Lk. 12:11). He assured them that at the proper time, and in the proper context, the Spirit will speak thorough them. We understand that God is pleased when humans accomplish His will. We should not rely on our own skill or knowledge. We may have it. It may be stellar. But it cannot supplement for the work of the Spirit. If you want to be a fascinating fanatic, pray like crazy before, during and after your interaction with another person. Beg God to show up and do what only He can do. We have to discipline our heart to trust in the Lord. We must not allow our spiritual savvy to become our customary crutch.
2. Know when to start and stop. Religion can do some funny things to a person. Like make them really religious. They do not know when to stop or start. If you are to share the faith with someone, have the decency to do it in an appropriate manner. If you are speaking to someone while in line to obtain your favorite concoction, be aware of the time and spatial constraints. If you are at someone’s home, realize that your 2:00AM bedtime does not coincide with the host home owners. Be keenly aware of those around you. Avoid making a scene while arguing for the mid-trib return of Jesus. Avoid making people pray that the rapture would happen the instant you begin speaking. If your group consisted of ten people and slowly shrunk to two, then it is a good idea to grab a cup of tea. Know your limits. Be aware of your surroundings. I am not saying to back down from defending the faith. I am saying to do it in a way where you put the interest of others, first (Php. 2:4). Knowing when to start and stop is what keeps you a fascinating fanatic.
3. Avoid segregating the secular and the spiritual. My wife and I were invited to a party. We had some tea and sweet TJ’s desserts. The conversation was secular at its inception. We talked about the weather, the lack of personal wealth, the economy and the joys of matrimony. Another group who was with us decided to depart early. When asked why, they simply said the conversation was not spiritual. After the initial pleasantries, the secular’ites started sharing with one another reasons for their deep faith. A great gospel-centered conversation ensued. We all prayed with one another and for one another towards the end. What am I getting at with this point? We do not need to have a specific start time when we get fanatical about our faith. Don’t force the conversation and avoid the altercation. Allow the Spirit to lead the situation. Let this time begin spontaneously or informally. Put the stop-watch and the sand-clock away. Avoid segregating the “holy” time and the “jolly” time. I am all for systematization and punctuality. I am all for effectively using the time allotted during a small group or a bible study. But when the meeting is more casual, a divisive dichotomy need not be created. Paul proposes that whatever we do, it should be done to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). So whether you are enjoying some awesome Hors d’oeuvre or dissecting dispensationalism, avoid segregating the secular with the spiritual.
4. Understand that not all will have mutual enthusiasm. I am a fact freak. I love to read as much as I can and reiterate what I learned as fast as I can. I love to discuss general revelation, special revelation, canonicity of Scripture, election, justification, regeneration, sanctification, glorification, Christ’s mediatorial offices, the humanity of Christ in the hypostatic union and the vicarious atonement. But, there is one tiny problem. Not everyone is as enthusiastic or dare I say fanatical about all these items. This does not mean they love Jesus any less. They just have a different way of expressing enthusiasm regarding their faith. People often tell me, look: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so! What else do I need to know?” To which I reply — phenomenal! And then politely proceed with preaching to myself point number two from above. If we want to be fascinating fanatics, we need to realize that mutual enthusiasm will not exist in every conversation. If you just lodged a lofty argument for the pre-tribulational rapture, replete with graphs and charts — and someone then asks you to pass the guacamole — don’t retreat back to your Mac and dive into a dire depression. Understand that people have a different tolerance level for spiritual discussions. And this is ok. It is actually a great practice to come back to earth once in a while.
5. Realize that people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. When we are spending time with people, we need to be investing into people. This means that our conversation must be centered around the other person. The less we speak and the more we listen, the more pleasurable we become to listen to. I learned (the hard way) that people do not really care how much I know, until they realize how much I care. This might mean you will have to listen to a person’s frustration. You might have to be the listening ear when your friend is attempting to vent. You might even have to listen to a topic that you are not entirely fanatical about. And be genuinely interested in it. If your ultimate goal is to share the gospel, you need to go to great lengths to make this happen. Hunting might not be your thing. Whale watching is not looking good either. Forget hiking. When you hear a phrase about fishing, all that comes to your mind is what Jesus told his disciples (Matt. 4:19). But what we fail to realize is that to the other person, these items are sensationally interesting if not positionally sacred. So we must listen to the other person. We must engage the other person in this conversation that to us seems lackluster. If we take the time to listen, we will be better positioned to speak into the person’s life. Our opinion will have weight. Our advice will not fall on deaf ears. This miraculous event only happens, after we show the other person how much we care. Being a guide in the faith, for the progression of faith, can be accomplished — when we truly care about other people.
Let us be a tribe of fascinating fanatics who love Jesus. Let us go to great lengths, at the expense of our personal interests, to share the faith in a fascinating way with the people we encounter — for the fame of Jesus’ name.
Question: What other suggestions do you have on becoming a fascinating fanatic?