Recently an annual rite of spring concluded in the United States—“March Madness” was as exciting this year as I have ever remembered it to be in my decades of enjoying college basketball. Recognizing it is possible that some may not be familiar with the origin of the term, perhaps a little history would be helpful.
The original use of the phrase had nothing to do with what I am writing about. The idiom “mad as a March hare” came about due to the uncharacteristic antics of the European hare during the spring mating season. A normally shy and retiring creature, during the spring it becomes quite bold and aggressive.
For informed Americans, however, the phrase I am referencing represents the fervor and weirdness of the NCAA men’s basketball national championship tournament. Sixty-eight teams are annually chosen by a sports committee to play a single-elimination tournament, culminating with a national championship game. Sixty-eight teams begin what has become known as the “Big Dance”, but only one comes out the winner.
Why it is called “March Madness?” Because the fans of the various schools (“fan” is an abbreviated form of the word “fanatic”) do unusual things to support their team. For example, the Duke Blue Devils of the ACC, seated #1 in their division, have a following named after their home gym, the “Cameron Crazies.” The Cameron Crazies dress in odd outfits and cover themselves in blue—something most people think is normal for a true “fan.”
Christians are to be in the truest sense “fans” of Jesus Christ, willing to be thought of as “weird” by the world. While we are not to be different for the sake of being different, we are to be different for our Savior in a Biblical sense. We are to dress and act in a way that will honor Him and show the world that we support Him and His cause. Are you a “fan” of Jesus Christ—yes, in a real sense, a fanatic for Him?
Following Christ Biblically means begin willing to put yourself forward as a Gospel herald and to be ridiculed as a “crazy” by the world. Though we might be somewhat naturally reticent to be bold with the Gospel, God has called us and empowered us to declare the glory of His Son, despite the repercussions.
If grown men can become “crazy” over a basketball game, should not we be excited about the greatest message the world has ever known? Let’s take our stand with the Son of God and be willing to bear the reproach of the cross for Him!
Written by Dr. Bud Steadman, Executive Director of Baptist World Mission