We looked up from our chicken wings and cheese fries to see a slow trickle of women in their midthirties filling up the sports bar. We were in Ohio and had chosen an ideal spot, we believed, to watch the Cleveland Cavs lose the deciding game of the NBA finals. Everyone in there wore the requisite burgundy and blue. When the final buzzer sounded, the restaurant cleared out so fast it was like someone had yelled “fire!” That’s when the migration of women dressed in parachute pants, tube tops, and jelly shoes began.
At first, it was just a handful of them. Then, dozens. Within the space of about twenty minutes, the entire restaurant was filled with women dressed in fashions I hadn’t seen since the early ’90s. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and told me to look out the window onto the street where there were—no exaggeration—at least five hundred women sauntering down the street like we were in some kind of 1980s zombie apocalypse.
I asked one of the ladies near our table, “What is going on?” She told me, “The New Kids on the Block reunion tour concert just ended!” While the Cavs were choking away the final, these ladies had been taking a sweet little trip down memory lane with the Now Middle-Aged Kids on the Block.
Probably 70 percent of those ladies had been convinced in middle school that they were going to marry Donnie, the lead singer with the boyishly-cute-though-still-a-tough-guy persona. A friend told me that his wife may or may not have been in that group. She replied, “Oh, I remember it. All the girls tried to get to the front row so they could scream, ‘I love you, Donnie!’ Sure, you were only one of hundreds of girls, but you were convinced that your scream was going to be just a little bit louder than everyone else’s, and Donnie was going to look over at you . . . and you’d have a split-second moment of enchantment. Later, a bouncer would find you and hand you a personal note from Donnie that said, ‘You got the right stuff, baby. You’re the reason why I sing this song.’ And then you were going to get married and have cute little kids with floppy hair and live in Malibu.”
Unless your name is Kim Fey or Jenny McCarthy, that never happened. Instead, you married Phil from accounting, a responsible man who is slightly overweight, balding, wears penny loafers, and drives a minivan.
Perhaps now you look at middle school girls dreaming the same thing about Justin Bieber or Hunter Hayes and think, “Sorry, sweetheart, it ain’t goin’ to happen.” And maybe that comes with a hint of bitterness, but that’s OK because you’re discipling the next generation. Your duty is, as Donnie would say, to “shake them to wake them from this bad dream.” Life is too short to be a groupie.
A groupie gives inordinate attention to someone who ignores them. Judah Smith says that one of the most mind-blowing things in Scripture is that we see God take this posture with the sinful human race.1 Unlike groupies, however, God is not enamored with our greatness, nor is he desperate for our attention. He does not marvel at our brilliance, nor is he taken in by our beauty. We are sinners who do not deserve his tolerance, much less his affection! Yet, from the first pages of Genesis to the last chapters of Revelation, we see God reaching out to people who pay him no attention.
The apostle John exclaimed, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God!” (1 John 3:1 NKJV). John chose one word to encapsulate all of God: love. “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Discovering this love turns faith into passion (1 John 3:1–3; 4:19). — Greear and David Jeremiah, Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on J.D. Greear’s newest book, Not God Enough. These lessons are available on Amazon, as we as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.