A CRANK Versus A FANATIC:
Wikipedia defines the crank “as a person who holds a position or opinion which is so far from the norm [whatever “norm” is] as to appear ludicrous and/or probably wrong.” An example of a crank: “belief of a flat earth.”
Now the word fanatic: fa-nat-ic /fa’natik as a noun: a person filled with excessive and single–minded zeal. Fanatic as an adjective: Filled with or expressing excessive zeal.
With those definitions in mind, would you call the displayed picture of two football fans, CRANKS or FANATICS based on Wikipedia‘s definitions? My opinion? FANATICS!
I’ve personally demonstrated fanaticism at my favorite sport in America: BASEBALL. I was so zealous at one particular baseball game [Seattle Mariners vs. Boston Red Sox game], the Boston fans/fanatics turned around to see who was yelling at them. My wife, daughter and her husband were left shaking their heads. Not out of embarrassment for my public display of a fanatic baseball lover I hope. But then again….
WAS THE APOSTLE PAUL A FANATIC OR A CRANK?
Have you ever been accused of being a ‘crazy Christian’ or a ‘religious fanatic’? The Apostle Paul was frequently accused of being crazy: “Paul, you’re mad, your great learning is turning you mad” (Acts 28:24 RSV). Paul didn’t seem to mind the name calling. Perhaps he remembered the occasion of Jesus; the experience of Mark 3:21:
“And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsmen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!”
So was Paul a “fanatic” or a “crank“; was he out of his mind, maybe even “deranged”? To answer the question, turn with me to 2 Corinthians 6, verses 3-12:
“We put no obstruction in any body’s way as [true] servants of God; through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities, In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger; By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love; By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]; Amid honor and dishonor; in defaming and evil report and in praise and good report. [We are branded] as deceivers (imposters), and [yet vindicated as] truthful and honest. [We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed; As grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing; as poor [ourselves, yet] bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, and [yet in reality] possessing all things. Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians [we are hiding nothing, keeping nothing back], and our heart is expanded wide [for you]! There is no lack room for you in [our hearts], but you lack room in your own affections [for us].” (Amplified Version).
Wow, Is THAT Fanaticism?
Well if it is, I feel like the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon, when he was told of Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road, that it was really caused by a fit of epilepsy. Spurgeon said, “Oh, blessed epilepsy! Would that every man in London could experience epilepsy like that!”
What a magnificent description in the above verse of a God-honoring life! A marvelous pattern that we might respond to Paul’s plea “not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them–do not receive it to no purpose]” (2 Corinthians 6:1 AMP). Here is what the “ministry of reconciliation” is about:
“But ALL things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]” (2 Corinthians 5:18 AMP).
You and I may fall short on a description like this; I feel that I do. But though we may not equal in degree with the way the apostle Paul lived, we are ALL called to be like this in kind, at least.
CAN THE ‘FANATIC RIGHTEOUS’ BE AN OBSTACLE TO OTHERS?
It is a very important thing, that believers have an awareness of what we look like to others; careful not to allow anything in our lives to turn someone off to becoming a Christian. Paul lived continually with that objective in view. So he says, “no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited.”
Now people did find fault with him, and plenty of it. Here is but a brief list of the accusations brought forth:
–full of pride.
And accused of many other things. But the point he was making, none of the accusations stuck! His own conscience cleared him and he knew in his heart that they were false accusations. He hadn’t put obstacles in anyone’s way and harm the ministry of reconciliation; new believers in Christ.
The RESOURCES Needed For Being A FANATICAL Believer:
“Speaking the WORD of TRUTH” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:7 (a).
In my last blog [A FAITH that Prompts Outspokenness], I wrote a synopsis in regards to speaking out about Christ, in FAITH to others and the difficulties encountered along the way. Again, the apostle Paul addresses the motives, the RESOURCES behind “speaking the word of TRUTH” to others who are not saved; the unrighteous in God’s sight.
A question might be in your thoughts right now, “this ‘speaking the word of truth‘ to others, is there a source we can read and understand before we go out blind in our communities?” That’s a good question. I remember someone once told me in an evangelistic outreach, “You don’t go out witnessing Mel, you witness as you go!”
Always keep this in mind if you are concerned about what others might think about your “speaking the WORD of truth” to them. Jesus told His followers,
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever” (John 14:16 AMP).
He will never leave you or forsake you. He is your constant companion through life; to be your helper, strengthener, comforter, your guide in “speaking the truth.” This is what Paul relied on. You cannot manifest this kind of character unless you are resting on this kind of RESOURCE.
Paul says in Romans 12: “Never lag in ZEAL and in EARNEST ENDEAVOR; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord” (verse 11). That sounds like a “RIGHTEOUS FANATIC” by definition to me. I’m just saying.
You can’t be zealous, a fanatical Christian, without looking to the Holy Spirit and putting Him first in your doings.
There Will Be CONFLICT In Being A CHRISTIAN FANATIC– 2 Corinthians 6:7-8 (a):
Paul says, “For we are not overstepping the limits of our province and stretching beyond our ability to reach, as though we reached not (had no legitimate mission) to you, for we were [the very first] to come even as far as you with the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel; the TRUTH) of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:14 AMP).
KNOW The POWER That Is Available Before CONFLICT.
Paul’s RELIANCE, even in the simple things; the ones that we come across each day, God was and is at work in them. God makes an impact, far beyond what we could ordinarily expect. There is always the SECRET of a God-honored life we hold close.; the knowledge of the TRUTH that has IMPACT and tremendous POWER available to CHANGE people. POWER coming from God working IN US! The RESURRECTION POWER, beyond anything we can anticipate.
God knows that if we are going to be “Righteous Fanatics” in today’s society; witnesses to His mercy and grace, defenders of the TRUTH, the enemy [Satan] and his cohorts are going to come at us with everything they can muster. Our Father will equip us for the daily battles of “speaking the word of truth.”
“Weapons of Righteousness” (verse 7):
First, what is RIGHTEOUSNESS? The Greek word, dike (pronounced dee-kay); the ancient Greek meaning is “tendency”. This word in the Bible implies: justice, conformance, to establish standards. JUSTICE means, “doing the RIGHT thing.” CONFORMANCE is to ESTABLISH standards (the Bible) or refers to FOLLOWING the ways of God in ALL aspects of our lives. In other words, if you want to be RIGHTEOUS as Matthew 5:6 proclaims:
“Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who HUNGER and THIRST for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!” (AMP Version).
Wow, is hungering and thirsting for righteousness, is that being a FANATIC? Maybe so.
But, if you FLAUNT your RIGHTEOUSNESS, you might be considered as a “religious crank”; for you won’t receive an award for being a “CRANK” (Matthew 6:7 (b); 16 (b)). Righteousness involves being and speaking for God’s kingdom and not your kingdom (Matthew 6:33).
The things coming out of your mouth will prove whether you are RIGHTEOUS (Romans 3:4). RIGHTEOUSNESS involves standing up for right things, even being fanatical if the Holy Spirit requires it, even if that invites persecution (Acts 4:19, 20).
WHAT ARE THE GOD-GIVEN “WEAPONS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”?
Some theologians refer to THE CHURCH on earth in any given era, ‘Church militant.’ Some folks are offended by that kind of terminology, in reference to the Body of Christ. This IDEA wasn’t invented by hot-headed theologians. The Lord Himself looks upon His Church as “weapons of righteousness“, in advancing His reign. We know from Scripture that we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the Lord has given us many SPIRITUAL WEAPONS (Ephesians 6:10-20).
But in reference to verse 7, 2 Corinthians 6, this is not what we have reference to. Rather, the members of local churches, who are being BUILT TOGETHER as communities of servants to a Holy nation should consider themselves as “weapons of righteousness.”
With respect to those people who do not know Jesus, church members MUST EXEMPLIFY the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ Jesus. But even more than that, they must be a VOICE in the wilderness calling on others to FORSAKE their sins; seek the righteousness of Jesus by His GRACE, through FAITH (Acts 2:37, 38; Romans 3:19-30). John the Baptist was most likely tagged by unbelievers and believers alike as a religious kook; a crank, maybe even a “righteous fanatic”! (Matthew 3:1-4). I’m not saying that you’re to have clothes of camel’s-hair, a leather girdle around your waist and eat organic locust and honey. But do people around us think we are testifying; speaking the TRUTH of Christ? Or, when you mention at work that you are a Christian, they say, “I’ve known you for three years and didn’t know that you were a Christian.” That happened to me once. I don’t know why I was shocked–I never had the confidence of being “fanatical”; to speak out about my faith. A month later, I led that same person to Christ.
Further, the Church must prayerfully consider how to STIMULATE and ENCOURAGE one another in good works of RIGHTEOUSNESS, in every area of our lives (Hebrew 10:24). In doing so, the righteousness of the Kingdom becomes more and more visible of the lives and ministries of the local churches.
The “RIGHTEOUS FANATICS” Are Like Arrows:
Listen to the psalmist when he said, “Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O mighty One, in Your glory and Your majesty! And in Your majesty ride triumphantly for the cause of TRUTH, HUMILITY, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS (uprightness and right standing with God); and let Your right hand guide You to tremendous things. Your ARROWS are sharp; the peoples fall under You, Your darts pierce the hearts of the King’s servants. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom” (Psalm 45:3-6 AMP).
God uses His people as “sharp arrows” as “weapons of righteousness!”
In 1972, I was working at a wholesale plumbing supply house in California. Once a week, an ex-plumber and now Pastor of a local church; on his day off, would stop by to pick up supplies. He would help the widows in the local area with FREE plumbing services.,
Every time he would walk through the office on the way to the warehouse, he would shout out, “Does anyone here know my Jesus?” Most of us knew, Pastor Ray was a FANATIC about God, and usually paid little attention to his odd remarks. Except for one time.
I was getting a cup of coffee in the warehouse as Ray walked up to the order counter. I in turn, walked up beside him and said, “Pastor, I have a lot of questions I need answered about the Bible.” He responded by saying, “I’m in a hurry right now, but if you give me your address and phone number, I’ll try to answer your questions later. How about this Thursday night, around 7:30 PM? Somewhat surprised by his quick reply, “Yeah, Thursday night is fine.” Now the dilemma; telling my wife that a religious fanatic was coming over to the house this Thursday night. I believe she said something like, “What kind of FLAVOR is he?” “I don’t know, I think Baptist.” She then made this statement–“That’s just great. A Bible thumping preacher coming to our house.”
Pastor Ray spent an hour or two, answering our questions as quickly as we would ask them. And then it happened! “Mel, Dianne…have you ever heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” We hadn’t and a few minutes later, we both accepted Jesus Christ into our lives by faith; as Lord and Savior. It had all started with the “sharp arrows” of an UN-attractive simple, unassuming pastor– “speaking the word.” Just a “Righteous Fanatic”, not a “Religious Crank” as we had predetermined. Oh, and by the way, we found out later that a small group of the Church where he pastor-ed were praying that night.
An Important Question:
Who are you in Christ Jesus? I’m not asking you if you’re SAVED; but what does the unsaved in your world know about who you are in Jesus? Are they hearing from your mouth the TRUTH?
If you are worried what they might think or say, “just another FANATICAL CHRISTIAN”, that’s a good thing. Pretend you are cheering for your favorite team and there is a lot of people around you. Are you embarrassed to show them what a FAN you are? Or are you so enthused and excited that you can’t help yourself? You are going to have to answer those questions yourself. REMEMBER your WEAPONS!