“A particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.”
Most people have heard of bandwagon fans. Every time a new team rises to the top of the ranks in any given sport we see their jerseys, hats, tweets, posts, etc all over the place. The media probably feeds this phenomenon but I wouldn’t say that it causes it by any means. There is something inside people that makes them want to hop on the wagon. The bandwagon analogy doesn’t just pertain to the sports world either. With most every hobby, passion, ideology, philosophy, and much more, there is a bandwagon effect. I would say that bandwagons are harmless for the most part, and even fun to tease people about, until it involves critical aspects of someone’s life or becomes more of pattern in a person’s life. That is what this blog post is addressing.
Behind the bandwagon effect lies a much deeper issue…insecurity. Bear with me here. By default, a person who jumps on the wagon is someone who wants to be associated with what is popular at the time. They might even be very outspoken about what is acceptable or praised in society at that moment. But, as we know, society changes about as often as teams rise and fall from prominence.
To jump on and off the bandwagon is the easier path in life. One never has to be disappointed, weather hard times, go against the flow, or be challenged. It may be easier to live this way, but it is far less fulfilling, impactful, and authentic. It could also be said that these people are either absent of true conviction or too fearful to stand by them. Their insecurity drives their beliefs deep down so that they choose the crowd over conviction. In perspective, a bandwagon lifestyle is fake. It is a projected image that doesn’t match reality. The life is no more dangerous than when it comes to our faith in Christ. Just as a bandwagon fan, is no fan at all so too a bandwagon Christian is no Christian at all. And there are plenty of impostors out there wearing the Christian fan garb and speaking the Christianese language, but only when it’s safe, and only when it doesn’t require changing their lifestyle, and only when it doesn’t require standing up for truth.
The title of this post is part of a quote from Malcolm Muggeridge, an English journalist. I believe it captures the bandwagon life. Those who follow the flow of society don’t have a promising future ahead of them. The fish who survive and have purpose, are those who choose to swim upstream, against the current. Few people choose the current, but those who are spiritually alive refuse the flow. That’s because Jesus is at the headwaters not the mouth of the river.
I am not advocating anarchy or outright rebellion, but I am promoting the idea of being counter-cultural. There have always been, and I would venture to say, there always will be aspects of culture that is anti-biblical. So to be a Christian is to be counter-cultural. To be a Christian means we have to go against the flow for a lot of issues in society. To be a Christian means we will have to weather hard times and that the majority will criticize us at one point or another. To be a Christian means that we have the strength of the Holy Spirit to thrive in the midst of hostility and adversity. Jesus didn’t send us out into the world to flow with it, but to change it. And He promised that we wouldn’t go alone.
The goal of the Christian is not the acceptance of society, but acceptance by the Savior. He wrote the rule book of life, not men. He decided right and wrong, not men. And what was right in the beginning of time will still be right when this world comes to an end. The judgement standard of this world is Jesus Christ, not cultural norms. What separates the bandwagon fans of Jesus and His die-hard followers will be whether or not they live that way. Besides, the bandwagon doesn’t pass through the pearly gates only those who followed Him in life do.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Matthew 7:13-23 (NIV)