Gyms Without Fans

March 12, 2020
Volume 24, Number 9

The World Health Organization yesterday officially declared that there is a pandemic. COVID-19 (the coronavirus), which started in China late last year, has now spread into communities in the United States. Many measures have been announced which are aimed at containing the virus, to keep it from spreading farther. One that caught many off-guard is the decision to hold college basketball tournaments without fans.

“Fans” doesn’t refer to ventilation equipment but to people, supporters of the teams who play on the court. Anyone who has witnessed a sport knows that fans are an important part of the game. “Home court advantage” refers to the difference loud fans can make when a game is close. Without fans present in the gym, the games just aren’t the same.

“The twelfth man” is a term football fans know well. Teams are limited to eleven men on the field. But cheering fans on the sidelines can make a difference, whether it’s causing the opposing kicker to miss a field goal, or make it near impossible for the quarterback to be heard by his own team. Take away the twelfth man and the teams are more evenly matched.

It makes a difference, too, in the Christian life to have supporters on the sidelines, cheering us as we struggle to make headway with our faith. Christ knew this principle, and urged His followers to not “play the game” in gyms without fans.

Hebrews 3:13 is one such admonition: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The book of Hebrews is addressed to Christians who were on the verge of giving up their faith: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10:35). One resource every Christian needs are those who regularly encourage us.

Two who needed encouragement are described in Luke 24. These disciples were walking to Emmaus, and were trying to process all that had happened since the crucifixion of Jesus. Were their spirits low? Judge for yourself: “But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).

Things are bleak when our hope is in the past tense: “… we were hoping”. By choosing to walk together, however, they gave each other encouragement and perspective. And then the shadows lifted when Jesus joined them as they walked! “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

We don’t have to live our faith in gyms without fans. Take advantage of the gift of Christian fellowship! Spend time with the Lord and His people.

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.


Copyright, 2020, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.