It’s that time of year again––the time of year when our vocabulary will be altered for a solid month. We will speak of brackets and bracketology, mid-majors and bubble teams, Cinderella stories and powerhouses. We will take in near-lethal levels of Dick Vitale. We’ll debate how to spell Krzyzewski. And, of course, millions of us will attempt to predict who will win each game, how each round will shape up, and which team will be left standing in the end. What kind of fan are you?
Perhaps you fall into the “everyone else is doing it” category. Some people fill out a bracket every year just because they don’t want to be left out of conversations for the entire month of March. Their friends, family, and coworkers will all take part in it, so they do the same. Many Christians are the same way. Some become Christians because everyone in their family is a Christian. Some find themselves worshiping at a church only because their friends attend there, so it is their nice little social club. If you are following the faith of family or friends, you aren’t establishing your own personal faith in God’s Word. God calls us to have a relationship with Him through prayer and study of the Bible. You can only come to God for yourself.
Maybe you are the “homer fan.” A friend of mine is the perfect example––he picks Duke to win the championship every single year. He knows everything about them, so he doesn’t really care how the rest of the tournament works out so long as he can pick his favorite. With regards to the Bible, we see this in Christians who have a few favorite books or topics that they study until they know everything there is to be known. It’s great to know any portion of God’s Word well, but we can’t confine ourselves to our hobbyhorses or our favorite sections of Scripture. We know 2 Timothy 3:16a says, “All Scripture is inspired by God…” (NASB, emp. added). God wants us to learn about Him and His plan for us through every book of the Bible. He wants us to study all of His holy doctrines, not just our favorites. We can’t let ourselves become people who only stick to our favorites.
The third type of character in bracketology is the analyst. This guy can sit down and pick out the numbers and the matchups by researching magazines and newspapers and online articles. To him, it’s not really about basketball; it’s about research. Some people approach the Bible the same way––they see it as a book to be dissected and understood, but they miss out on the whole reason for doing it. The point of knowing the Bible is to gain a relationship with God and to understand His plan for our lives. I’ve heard of atheists who know more Bible than many advanced Bible scholars. What’s the point? If you approach God’s Word without trying to understand Him and gain a relationship with Him, your Bible study won’t benefit you at all. The point of the Bible isn’t to give us something to study like a trigonometry textbook; the point is to give us a book that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16b-17, NASB). God doesn’t take His Word lightly, and neither should we. Make sure you remember the Bible is God’s Word, not just a book of facts.
Finally, we have the avid fan. This person loves college basketball. They take in all they can during the season, and they have no problem filling out a bracket because they know just about everything there is to know by default. They do it all out of love for the game. We should strive to be the Christian equivalent to this fan. We want to study the Bible and develop our Christianity because we love God and we love His Word. God calls us to be the man from Psalm 1 who delights in God’s Word and meditates on it day and night. It is our job to strive to be the “avid fan” of God’s Word.
God has not called us to study the Bible so we fit in with others, because we have a hobbyhorse, or because we enjoy analyzing what He has said. God wants us to study His Word out of a love for Him and a desire to become more like Him. Which personality are you? There’s only one that will make you a winner in the end.
By Jack Wilkie
Jack Wilkie is the author of “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education” and is the speaker for Focus Press’s “The Lost Generation” seminar. To schedule a seminar at your church, contact email@example.com.