When I was a lot younger, maybe about 10 years old, my Grandma and Grandpa moved to Atlanta Georgia. This marked a monumental shift in the biggest thing in my life at that point, my baseball fandom allegiance.
Up until that point, myself and Tyson, were diehard Cubs fans. We were Cubs fans for two reasons. One, my Grandma and Grandpa lived in Chicago (remember, we were kids and this totally counted as a valid reason) and two, all the games were on WGN so we could watch every one.
My favorite player was, of course, Ryne Sandberg, the best 2nd baseman of all time. Tyson’s favorite player was their right fielder, “The Hawk” Andre Dawson. The man with a rocket launcher for a right arm.
We loved the Cubs. But they were horrible. Really bad.
Around 1988, when my grandparents moved to Atlanta, the unthinkable happened. Our allegiance to the Cubs faltered, fizzled, and apostasized completely. The Cubs had been replaced.
The new beneficiary of our loyalties was the Atlanta Braves. We jumped onto the only other team that was on tv all the time, and so we could still watch every game. The Braves won 54 games that year, and lost 106. It wasn’t exactly easy to be a fan of a such a loser team, but we did it.
Our heroes changed, we now loved Dale Murphy, Ozzie Virgil, Ken Oberkfell, “the penguin” Glen Hubbard (who, when running actually did appear as if he were a penguin, or a hobbit of some sort).
But, the Braves were also horrible. They were a terrible team, but we didn’t care. We cheered for them. We lived as proud Braves fans through all the years of terribleness, until they came around. Our time invested, sweat, tears, and suffering paid off. In 1995, the Braves won the World Series largely because of our unflinching loyalty to the team. You’re welcome Bobbie Cox.
To this day, all Alexanders are still Braves fans. We again suffer as the doldrums have returned, but our loyalty has not dimmed, nor wavered. We haven’t jumped ship with the changing tides to cheer for the popular teams like the Red Sox or Yankees. That would be blasphemous.
Fandom is the perfect way to learn about loyalty. Loyalty is the extreme commitment to something or someone. It cannot be shallow or fickle. Let’s go over some definitions to further this point:
Fair weather fan = only a fan if the team one claims is performing well, if they are terrible, this person will not wear a t shirt, fly a flag, or claim any knowledge or allegiance to their supposed team. But, the minute they are doing well, they come out of the woodwork claiming years of previous allegiance.
Bandwagon fan = this person has about 17 different teams’ t shirts and hats. This person never struggles with a bad team, they just jump to any popular team at the time. This type of fan currently accounts for approximately 86% of all Seattle Seahawks fans. Don’t pretend that this isn’t true.
Die hard fan = will still cheer for their team no matter what, even if they are the worst team in the history of the world. This fan is completely and thoroughly committed.
So what does all of this have to do with anything?
It has everything to do with loyalty.
We can all find examples of loyalty throughout history, let’s look at just one very famous example. Peter.
Peter was the great Apostle, the heir apparent to be the prophet after Christ was gone. This same Peter was the only apostle to actually walk on water towards Jesus in the stormy seas. The same Peter who would draw his sword and slice off an ear of one of the soldiers who would come to arrest Jesus. Not a fair weather fan.
Sounds more like a committed, fiercely loyal, diehard fan.
However, remember this exchange between Peter and Christ on the night of Jesus’ arrest?
31 ¶And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted (let’s think of converted as “committed” in this context) strengthen thy brethren.
33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
Ouch. That must have stung a bit knowing Peter.
But let’s see how this story unfolds.
We know that Peter was with Jesus as the angry crowd of soldiers and Priests came to arrest him. That moment was the end of life as the disciples knew it. There was no more safe passage on the bandwagon. Jesus held out his hand and gave his followers time and opportunity to escape, and what happened next?
Mathew 26:56 “Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.”
This is where loyalty enters in.
The team that these disciples had been cheering for wholeheartedly for the last 3 years just lost, badly. And worse, he seemed to just give up! And soon would probably not even be able to even field a team. So everyone bailed. They all ran away. Just when things got really bad, they quit.
But some, or one, stayed close enough.
Mathew 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
This is where everyone gets to read about Peter’s not so greatest moment. Where he has his trial of faith, where he suddenly has a temporary moment of fair weather fandom.
I picture Peter trying to be as inconspicuous as he can, sneaking as close to where the high priests have taken Jesus into their illegal court, I picture him not saying a word, trying to be invisible, just trying to be as close to Jesus as he can.
But, someone calls him out. 3 someone’s in fact, they saw him cheering for the Savior during the previous games and called him on the carpet.
In his haste to squash his cover being blown, he does the “natural” thing to do, he denies it. 3 times. Then the cock crows, and he snaps back into reality and it’s more than he can take.
Mathew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Peter gets a bad rep for all of this, but let’s remember one thing. How many disciples dared sneak into Jerusalem that night to be close to their savior?
Who dared take on a whole mob of soldiers to fight for his friend?
Peter wept bitterly because he realized he had somewhat inadvertently denied knowing his Savior. To him, loyalty was paramount, and because of his weakness, he failed. And he knew it.
But after all of this, what happened to Peter? His true loyalty came through, and he then lead the church through a massive missionary effort, and continued teaching, healing, and performing much of the same miracles that the Lord himself performed. His true loyalty was with the Savior and his actions proved it.
So what can we learn from Peter?
We learn that the trial of our faith comes as we try to get closer to the Savior. Peter’s came in a very literal way. Ours may come as we try to improve our lives to become more like Christ. We will meet people who may want us to feel uncomfortable while we seek out the Savior. And they may call us out and mock us. But, we have to be loyal to Him. We cannot deny that we know Him. If we stay loyal, we take that final step in truly becoming His, and then He will bless us with added strength and power just as He did with Peter.
Loyalty is more than just words. It’s actions. We need to display our loyalties by the way we live. We need to live our lives in a way that when other people watch us, they know exactly to whom our allegiance lies. Whether it’s in our commitment to our wives or husbands, our kids, our church, or our God. Our actions must mirror our words.
Otherwise, we become fair weather fans, and nobody likes those.