I know you have heard the expression: Bandwagon fan. They jump on the bandwagon with a bunch of fans of a winning team. Generally, bandwagon fans are looked upon with contempt, but as I think about it, I am a bandwagon fan. When I was a little boy, I didn’t care at all about football. But when I was eight years old, the new Steeler head-coach, Chuck Noll drafted a defensive lineman named Joe Greene. Within two seasons the local team — the Steelers — were winning and I’ve been on the bandwagon ever since. It’s the same with the Penguins. I only watch hockey closely when they are winning. The Lemieux years were great years. I stayed up late and watched games alone in the parsonage in Bradford. And the Crosby era has been a great time. I didn’t watch much in the years in between. It’s the same with baseball. When I was in college there was this team called The Pirates. They won The World Series that year. My roommates and I watched in my apartment at the university. However, as a bandwagon fan, I’ve not watched baseball much since then.
If we are honest, we have to admit that in sports, there is it’s not a big deal to be a bandwagon fan. In fact, as the Penguins enter the playoffs in a few days, I invite you to cheer with those of us who have been cheering all season. Bandwagon fans are welcome.
On the other hand, when it comes to your faith, being a bandwagon fan is a bad thing. It’s actually not just bad, it’s terrible.
I was listening to a pastor of a large church a few weeks ago and he noted that since his church has become “successful” in the eyes of many, there are lots of people there just for that reason. The problem, as he saw it, was this: Now that God is blessing our church, there are people here every week who have no interest in Jesus, but are just interested in what’s going on. Some people, he said, are not here for Jesus — they are here for the atmosphere. There were a lot of bandwagon people at his church.
I think that happens often. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that Christians are often seen as such hypocrites — because many are not into Jesus; they are into church. They are into the excitement, the relationships, or the familiarity. I wonder if A. W. Tozer was referring to these kinds of people when, decades ago, he said something like this: If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference.
In Matthew 26, Jesus — who knew everything — revealed something to his closest followers. He let them know that one of them was not genuine. One of them was going to behave in a manner that revealed his true heart. This person had been following Jesus around for three years and had never really bought into what Jesus was teaching. He saw Jesus’ popularity. He enjoyed the excitement — water into wine? Wow! He had his needs provided for through the ministry of Jesus. He was even the one who kept the money for the group — and he helped himself sometimes. But the reality was that he was a hypocrite. A phony. He was on the spiritual bandwagon — and when things fell apart, he would abandon ship.
This podcast notes that there are two kinds of followers of Jesus, identifies characteristics of a Judas-like follower, and helps us avoid being the kind of follower he was.