Ten minutes to show time and we were still in a line. Somehow I knew we weren’t going to make it into the auditorium on time. My friend and I had booked tickets to a Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe concert, and we had been so excited to attend. The weather had been questionable all day, but even so, we had made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare before the show. It was then that we found ourselves in a never-ending line, leading into the auditorium.
It was hard not to make my frustrations known. I had paid good money to see two artists that I enjoyed listening to and looked up to as worship leaders. To say that I was disappointed and impatient with the whole thing was an understatement. As the time moved closer to 7:00 p.m. (the start of the concert), I heard someone behind me make the comment: “We just got a text from Sarah; the concert just started.” Apparently, this fellow concert-goer had heard from a friend who was already inside the auditorium, and she was relaying that things had already begun.
“We’re missing it,” I said, turning to my friend.
My friend didn’t seem to miss a beat. “Who’s the headliner?” she asked.
“Chris Tomlin,” I answered, matter-of-factly, as if the answer should be obvious.
“Oh, really? Are you sure about that?” Even though I couldn’t see the expression on my friend’s face, I was almost certain she was rolling her eyes at me.
At that moment, I knew what my friend was trying to say. We were there to see Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe, yes, but who were we really there to see? We were there to worship our Savior, and He would be the headliner of the show. Yes, we were missing the show and the performance of some of our favorite artists, but did that really matter in the scheme of things?
In a recent sermon, Pastor Tim talked about what it truly means to follow Jesus. He used the idea of being a Packer fan to illustrate the significance of this. He asked the congregation what he would need to do to be a true Packer fan. Could he wear a sign around his neck, proclaiming he was a Packer fan, or would he need to do more— like wearing a t-shirt, jersey, or hat? He identified that following Jesus, like being a Packer fan, is not on our terms. Packer fans can go to games and know all of the players’ names, just like Christians can go to church, pray and read their Bibles. But do these things really identify what it means to be a Packer fan, or even more importantly, a Christian? God asks us to follow Him on His terms. It has nothing to do with what we wear or how we identify ourselves; instead, we must commit to being “all in” for Him and not just a fan.
I think of how easy it is to look at Christianity through the lens of fandom. A person can follow the score and cheer on their team during a football game; that is being a fan. A person can also go to a concert to see the headliner and also be a fan— much like I had done at the Chris Tomlin concert. Deep in my heart, I knew I had come to the concert that night to worship, but even so, I still wanted to see Chris and Kari on stage; I was a fan. If my friend hadn’t said something, I probably would have gone through the rest of the evening disappointed that I had missed out on something as trivial as a performance.
Instead, I began to worship my Lord and Savior with everything that was in me; with tears streaming down my face, I sang at the top of my voice, forgetting about the people on stage completely. Obviously, the music was beautiful and Chris and Kari were very present in that auditorium, but it wasn’t about them at all. As my friend had pointed out, God was the headliner and we were there to worship him. We had missed a third of the concert, but that was okay, because in the end we were given a far greater gift. Overall, I learned a lesson in what it means to be a fan of something versus worshipping SOMEONE. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.