“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject,” quipped Winston Churchill, England’s beloved, wartime prime minister. Does his description bring anyone to mind, your neighbor, for instance, who knows exactly how many days remain until the OSU-Michigan game? Personally, I can’t help but think (and chuckle) about Forrest Gump’s friend, Bubba, and his all-consuming passion for shrimp! (“Shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. . . .”1) Of course, none of us wants to be known as a fanatic, but almost all of us proudly proclaim ourselves to be a “fan” of something, even though “fan” is the shortened version of the word, “fanatic.” Abbreviate the word, and we’re good with it.
The historical book of Acts ends with the apostle Paul under house arrest, living alone under guard, yet still with singularity of purpose. “For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.”2 Though confined, Paul constrained neither his message, nor the fervor in which he shared it.
So what do you think? Is Paul “that guy” we warmly greet in church but coolly avoid in public? It would be easy to look at him or someone like him and think, “nut job,” “zealot,” or “fanatic.” But think about it for a moment—the only reason Paul talked nonstop about Jesus for two years is that people kept coming to see him for two years! If they stop seeking, he stops preaching, right? Yet something in him drew people to him, those looking for truth and the inner peace it brings.
The point is this: people are hungry for something in their lives, and that something is the truth and hope of the gospel. It is as Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until can they find peace in you.”3 So people keep searching. Then wouldn’t it be great if we lived today in such a way that people could see the hope that we have and experience for themselves the peace of Christ? Wouldn’t it be great if we lived today as fans?
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15)
[Read today’s Scripture in Acts 28:23-31.]
1 Tisch, Steve, Wendy Finerman, Robert Zemeckis, Eric Roth, Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, and Winston Groom. 1995. Forrest Gump. [Hollywood, Calif.]: Paramount.
2 Acts 28:30, 31
3 Augustine, Saint Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner. (New York: The New American Library, 1963), 17.