One of the best rivalries in all of sports resumes tonight when #8 ranked UNC travels to Durham to take on #18 ranked Duke. As these two teams continue their intense rivalry, this should be another memorable game. Displaying

In the last 96 games they’ve played each other, ESPN Stats reveal UNC has 48 wins and 7,437 points…and Duke has 48 wins and 7,437 points – an absolutely unbelievable stat!

Of course, the elite players and close games make the rivalry entertaining, but the fans take it to an ever greater level. The Cameron Crazies are creative and excitable, and the Tarheel fans are passionate and loyal.

If you grow up in the state of North Carolina, you are presented with the choice of being a fan of one or the other. With both programs so successful, determining who to give your rooting interests isn’t always easy. Unless you have family ties to either school, one of the key factors in deciding the team you cheer for is the fan base.

The people in your life who are Duke and UNC fans may influence your choice, but the problem is some of these fans can be annoying, obnoxious, outrageous, mean, and in your face about how great their team is. Interactions with them can actually turn you away from the team because of their ridiculous behavior.

 Although some of this craziness makes the rivalry that much better, this scenario illustrates something much more concerning. How many people don’t want to follow Jesus because they look at people who are supposed to represent Him, but are turned off by their absurd behavior?

Unfortunately, certain people who claim to be Christians can sometimes be annoying, mean, outrageous, or in your face. When someone rejects the pursuit of Jesus because of a misguided “fan” who isn’t demonstrating God’s love in the way they live, it’s devastating.

If we are more than a “fan” and a true follower of Jesus, we should represent Him well and be strong advocates that draw people to Him – not push them away. But everyone ultimately must have their own encounter with the real Jesus and can’t blame their rejection of Him on imperfect people misrepresenting Him.

However, when interacting with others, we should be challenged to make them so intrigued by our love for Christ and them that they want to become a follower of Jesus. We are in an important position of pointing people to Jesus and encouraging them when they inquire about our “rooting interests.”

The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15 (AMP), “But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.”

I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, please forgive me for the times I’ve been a misguided fan of Yours instead of a true follower. I pray that my life would draw people to You and they would see Your love in me. I pray I wouldn’t lose my passion for You because of others who represent You poorly…but instead help me to keep looking to Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen.