What Being A Memphis Grizzlies Fair-Weather Fan Taught Me About Following Jesus

by Frank Powell

I am just going to say it. I am a fair-weather fan of the Memphis Grizzlies. Man, that hurts. My parents are probably ashamed to read those words. I was taught to be loyal. Here’s a bit of context. I grew up cheering for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, a perennial loser. But no matter how painful it was to cheer for them, I was taught to remain loyal. And I have.

So, this really is all about me. The Grizzlies are a great team. In many ways, their style and attitude are reflective of my life. They probably aren’t the most talented team. They aren’t flashy. But they play hard. They scrap. I relate to that.

But at the end of the day, I am not a real fan. I enjoy watching the games. I am not against them winning. But I am also not against them losing. Some people embrace fair-weather “fan-hood.” But it’s strange to me.

It’s mostly strange because fair-weather fans aren’t really fans. They are more like groupies. That’s harsh, but true.

I felt like a groupie this year. I embraced being a Grizzles fan at first. It was exciting. But the excitement was replaced by dirty, shameful, “I am using you” feelings.

Everything came full circle two nights ago. In the middle of a playoff game, I decided my time would be better spent sleeping instead of watching the game. As I laid in bed, thinking about my half-hearted attitude towards the Grizzlies, God convicted me of my fair-weather attitude towards him. And I think this is part of the reason God introduced me to the Grizzlies. He wanted to show me the attitude of a fair-weather fan.

What does a fair-weather fan look like? And how does it parallel a relationship with God? I thought you might ask.

Here are 7 qualities of fair-weather fans.

1.) Fair-weather fans look the part but don’t live the part. 

This year, I attended my first Grizzlies game. As I walked in the arena doors, there it was. An apparel shop. So, I did what every fair-weather fan would do. I bought some gear. Twenty minutes later, I walked out wearing a fresh shirt. And I would have bought more if the shop carried my size (apparently all basketball fans are either giants or wear shirts twelve sizes too big for them).

This is a strange (but true) reality: fair-weather fans are often the ones with the nicest apparel. They wear more of their respective team’s apparel than the fans who have cheered for years. But as soon as the game’s over, the fresh gear is thrown aside.

The same is true for fair-weather fans of Jesus. When they are around other Christians, they know how to look the part. They know what to say and how to say it. They know the “Sunday school answers.”

But it’s just a show. The external actions aren’t an overflow of an internal passion. It’s acting. And when the lights go out, fair-weather Christians show their true colors. When they leave their Christian friends, they change their behavior and language.

This explains why fair-weather Christians manage the time they spend around real fans. If they spend too much time with authentic followers, their true colors will be exposed. This is a testament to the power of community. In Christ-centered community, what your heart truly desires is revealed to the ones in your circle.

As a pastor, a red flag goes up when someone pulls away from or refuses to join a Christ-centered community. It often means something about their life doesn’t line up with the intentions of their heart.

Are our external actions an overflow of an internal passion?

2.) Fair-weather fans are only in it because it is beneficial to them. 

I started watching Grizzlies games because several of my friends in Jackson were fans. It was advantageous for me. I knew I could use Grizzlies talk to spark conversations. This is a trademark of fair-weather fans. They are in it for them. It benefits their business. It is important to their relationships. It is fun to cheer for a winner.

God really hit me hard with this one. How much of my Christian walk is about me? What percentage of my motivation for following Jesus is selfish? Many days the percentage is high.

Fair-weather fans of Jesus might follow Him. But they only do so because it is advantageous for them. Their girlfriend or boyfriend goes, so they go. They believe God would make a great genie, so they pursue him. But it’s a relationship with an agenda. And God doesn’t do relationships with agendas.

So, when God doesn’t come through on his end of the deal, fair-weather fans are out. A good way to separate the posers from the true fans is to look at what happens when something bad happens to them. Do they blame God? Do they accuse God of not blessing their business or bank account?

3.) Fair-weather fans are content with surface-level knowledge.

Fair-weather fans have no desire to know their team. Even though I only watched a handful of Grizzlies games this year, I checked every box score. I knew when the Grizzlies won or lost, but I had no idea how it happened.

But not real fans. They know everything about their team. They know the coach’s wife’s great-grandmother. Personally. Even if she isn’t alive. They know exactly how a trade or injury will affect the chemistry of their team. They are invested.

What about following Jesus? Do we have a desire to know him intimately? Is our passion for God reflected in how relentlessly we pursue him? Do we know God so well through His word that we understand how he wants us to live and respond to a broken world?

Fair-weather fans don’t really care about knowing God. They might know the core truths about God. But they don’t know God.

They have no desire for a deep, intimate relationship with God. Just give them some core truths and leave them alone. Just enough to start a conversation or convince someone they have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.

4.) Fair-weather fans never encourage other people to become fans. 

The Grizzlies play their home games about an hour from my house. But you know how many times I drove to a game or invited someone to come over and watch one? Zero. The only game I attended was one where I friend invited me. You see, fair-weather fans aren’t encouraging others to become fans. They aren’t going to encourage someone to buy into something they haven’t bought into.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Fair-weather Christians come to church, but their life looks striking similar to an atheist.[/tweet_box]

This is another hallmark of fair-weather fans of Jesus. They don’t have any desire to invite others. And it makes sense, right? If we aren’t passionate about something, why would we invite another person to join us?

So, fair-weather Christians might come to church and speak a Christian language around other believers, but the rest of their life looks striking similar to an atheist.

If we are passionate about something we will tell others about it. What we talk about most often reveals what we are passionate about.

Are you passionate about God?

5.) Fair-weather fans often refer to their team using “they” instead of “we,” because they aren’t part of the family. 

Even when I was around other Grizzlies fans, I caught myself using “they” instead of “we” on several occasions.

“WE played well last night. WE are hot right now. THEY might win the championship this year.”

My use of “they” was totally an accident. But real fans don’t have accidents like this. Why? They are part of the family. Families use “we” in reference to one another. Outsiders use “they.”

Fair-weather Christians are the same. They have no pride in their family. They don’t feel a sense of ownership and loyalty. So, they don’t invest. They don’t give all of their heart to God. Or to the church. And when a conversation about God (or his people) comes up, fair-weather fans often revert to using “they.”

Because fair-weather fans aren’t really part of the family.

6.) Fair-weather fans always have a second option (in case their first one doesn’t work out).

This might be the trademark of fair-weather fans. They never give their loyalty to one team. They don’t place all their eggs in one basket. They are plagued by F.O.M.O (Fear Of Missing Out). If things are going well, they appear all in. But if management decides their current team is “rebuilding,” fair-weather fans start retreating.

They always have a backup plan, just in case.

Likewise, fair-weather Christians don’t believe in going all in for Jesus. That signifies total allegiance. Fair-weather Christians don’t believe in total allegiance. They believe in partial allegiance…to everything. Every basket gets an egg.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Fair-weather Christians give partial allegiance to everything.[/tweet_box]

But this reflects a poor understanding of God’s goodness and desires for his children. We can’t experience the fullness of God’s goodness unless we completely die to ourselves.

I get it. It makes more sense to play it safe. Pushing all the chips to the middle of the table means there is no plan B. But when our allegiance is pledged completely to God, God’s goodness is poured out completely on us.

Not sure about you, but I want that.

7.) Fair-weather fans don’t feel pain over their team losing, but they also never feel exhilaration when their team wins.

Here’s where it gets real. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t enjoy a Grizzlies win like some of my friends.

They are real fans. They experienced the agony of losing in Game 7 of the playoffs. They endured difficult seasons with mediocre teams. They persevered through the hard times. And because they endured the hard times, the wins means so much more.

I had no such experience. This is the reality for fair-weather fans. They might not experience the pain of losing because they jump ship, but they also never experience satisfaction and exhilaration when their team finally wins. At least not to the degree of real fans.

Likewise, fair-weather Christians might abandon Him before they endure difficulty or hardship. But in doing this, they never experience the joy and peace that comes with following Jesus. Fair-weather followers have given just enough of their lives to God to make them miserable.

[tweet_box design=”default”]Fair-weather fans give God just enough to make them miserable.[/tweet_box]

Like Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-11, at times we are guilty of claiming to give God everything, but in reality we withhold a piece for ourselves. And even though God might not strike us dead like he did Ananias and Saphira, we feel dead inside. We are empty.

We claim to follow Jesus, but we place a piece of our faith in money. We place a piece of our identity in our career. We place a piece of our trust in our own abilities. And in doing so, we only rob ourselves of joy and peace.


So, why does this post even matter? It matters because fair-weather fans aren’t really fans. Fair-weather Christians aren’t really Christians. And eventually Jesus is going to expose the intentions and desires of our heart.

[blockquote cite=”Matthew 7:21-23″ type=”left”]Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you.[/blockquote]

Translation: We can wear the shirt, tell others we are part of the family and claim we’re all in, but if we haven’t pursued an intimate relationship with God, we have wasted our time.

And not just that, but fair-weather fans never taste God’s goodness. They play the Christian game, but they never experience the benefits of a God who has defeated Satan, along with his plans and schemes.

So, are we fair-weather fans or full-time followers? Are we half-way or all in? These might be the most important questions we ever ask. They have implications for today, tomorrow, and all of eternity.

Are there marks of a fair-weather Christian I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation. 

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

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