Like a Fan
By Anthony Casperson

In a crowded room, a person steps up to a microphone. The author of their favorite book sits on the stage, waiting to answer their question. And the person explains that they’d been re-reading the book. They ran across one of the names for the group of bad guys in the story and realized it sounded familiar. So, they scanned the earlier parts, only to discover that someone had used that name in a question regarding the protagonist. Therefore their question was if the main character was somehow one of the bad guys too.

Elsewhere, another person types out a letter to the makers of their favorite game. In its ongoing story, an event happened that shut down a particular aspect of the world’s design. The likelihood that this plotline will eventually be undone and resolved is high. And something said about a different—and seemingly disconnected—event made this letter writer question if the manner of the first event’s resolution will come as a result of the second’s story.

Also, miles away from either of these, a person stands in front of a camera, ready to record their thoughts. They’d watched a recent episode of a superhero TV show and noticed something in the background. To most others, the presence of this item didn’t register at all. But to this person—who’d read the comics that this storyline is loosely based off of—that tiny background detail explains so much. And they feel the need to put out the question that asks if they’re right about this assumption.

A number of people reading the three above accounts might look at them and shake their heads. Fan theories and easter eggs might be interesting, but it seems like only the most devoted of fans could possibly do more than sit back and appreciate the hard work of those who realize them.

However, I would point out that the people from those three accounts—and many like them—are not any more special or brilliant or perceptive than anyone reading these words. The difference isn’t some unique gift or talent that only one in a million has. No, these people merely devoted time and energy to think deeply about the things they care for. They spent time re-reading and re-watching because the story means something to them. And their enthusiasm and devotion led them to pay closer attention than just the surface level.

The depth of their knowledge and questions doesn’t reveal a special capability. It reveals the care with which they hold this story. The importance to them that it holds.

It’s a simple idea. You want to understand the vast reaches of something like these fans do? Then spend time with it. Make it important in your daily life. (There is such a thing as too much devotion, but assume that we’re not going that far.)

Sometimes, people in the church stand in awe of how much a pastor or other mature follower of Jesus knows about the bible. But the principle is the same. If we want the deep understanding and knowledge, then we gotta put in the time.

Few who draw connections between different parts of the book have only read it once. And read more than just their favorite parts. They come back again and again to the whole book. Each time with an expanded background of what came before or what will come in the future.

They get excited when words or terms used in one location are discovered again, because meaning carries between those points. They figure out how two seemingly disparate thoughts actually fit together because they’ve delved into details about both subjects. They pay close attention to the minor details that most would overlook because their knowledge of similar passages helps explain this one.

And more important than all of this, they see that the truth of the bible is much more important than any other story. The things contained within God’s word have actual impact on us in our everyday lives. Much more than getting a kind word for our understanding or maybe a prize from some trivia game.

It shows us the way to live at peace with God. The greatest story ever told. God’s salvation of his fallen creation.

So, a challenge this week. Pick up the bible and read. Not begrudgingly, like some assigned textbook. But like a fan who shows their love of the story by spending time in its breadth.