Shaka, Jimmer, Kemba, and Jesus?

I am not a college basketball fan. It’s not that I have anything against it, it just is not a segment of sports that registers with me. To me, Shaka Smart is a female R&B singer and “the Jimmer” is a new workout. All of that said, I love the NCAA tourney. In March Madness I become an avid fan of schools that I didn’t even know existed. This year I was a diehard fan for Texas, BYU, VCU, and Butler. Next year, who knows who I will root for. My condition is simple, I am a bandwagon fan. All it takes to earn my affection in the month of March is a great name, a cool shot, or a Cinderella story. I am content to stay in this lukewarm bliss, because I know that I will always root for the winner.
I pastor in the Bible belt. Here in Oklahoma it is not hard to find what the bandwagon belief is. Interestingly enough, I do not know a single person who does not believe in Jesus at some level. It is trendy and culturally appropriate to believe in Christ. One can go door to door and find that most every person in our community believes in Jesus and declares a church as their home. The truth is though, just as I am not a real fan of VCU or Butler, there are many today across Oklahoma and in America who “believe” in Jesus but don’t actually follow Him.
In scripture we see that demons (actual ones, outside of Wake Forest and Duncan High School) believe in Jesus. Are they saved? We know that Satan believes in Jesus. He does everything he can to stop men from following God. Even the rich young ruler believed there was something special about Jesus. If belief is enough, why are the devil, his demons, and many others not saved?
Over the past week I have been pondering John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” What we see is a group of people who believe in Jesus but out of selfishness and fear refuse to follow Him. They ate when Jesus broke the bread. They stood amazed while Lazarus walked from the tomb. In all of this, they were never willing to sacrifice the comfort of their lives to follow Jesus. In my opinion, their belief was found void, because genuine belief results in following Christ.

Trusting in Jesus is more than just saying a prayer. It is more than belonging to, attending or even giving to a church. Trusting Jesus is the sacrifice of yourself so that you might follow Christ. In this a Christian will be radically different from his community, whether in a Muslim country or in the heart of the Bible belt. It is easy to jump on the Jesus bandwagon, yet never really commit to him. The true heart of the Christian believes and follows Christ whether through easy or tough times.

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