Now I know what you're thinking. Not the most obvious analogy.
It's not because Millwall supporters have a bad reputation because of the behaviour of a small minority. Though that certainly would be one similarity between them and Christians. But here's why I used a Millwall supporter as an illustration while reading the Bible with a bloke this morning....
We were reading 1 Peter 4 and we came to this verse:
"13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
Now rejoicing for suffering is not really part of the 21st century psyche. We live in a culture that craves comfort above almost everything else. But in this verse Peter calls on Christians to rejoice in their sufferings because they are participating in the sufferings of Christ. They're bound in intimate relationship with Jesus, so that their lives are so identified with his that their suffering is inextricably linked to him.
I was struggling for an illustration of this kind of relationship when I suddenly remembered Roy Larner. He's the Millwall fan who was in The Black and Blue restaurant in Borough Market when the terrorist attackers stormed in. Rather than running he shouted, "F*** Off I'm Millwall!" and charged at them with nothing but his fists, suffering stab wounds as a result. Clearly Roy Larner isn't Millwall, he's a Millwall fan. But his identity is so bound with the club that he calls himself (with most other Millwall fans) simply Millwall. That means he sees himself as the sort of bloke who's not taking any rubbish from anyone. (Come to think of it this might not be the best advert for Millwall fans!) He's Millwall.
What Peter is saying is that the Christians identity is bound to Jesus. In fact Christ"ian" effectively means "Christ person". So that when we suffer for Jesus we suffer as part of his body. His people bound to him. And that's a privilege to rejoice in. To be able to suffer for our beautiful saviour. For the one we love and want to see honoured above all. For the cause we have pledged our lives to. For the captain of our souls.
As Peter goes on to say "16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."
Roy Larner wasn't ashamed to be Millwall. We shouldn't be ashamed to be Christian.
Whatever the cost.
(This blog will make Mark Best very happy!)