8 10 2012

Just do it! was the 1980s advertising slogan which emerged from rivalry between sports equipment manufacturers and led to the increase in Nike’s domination over Reebok in the sports shoe market. (If you are interested, check out the story here.)

Now we don’t even need the words – the iconic tick is enough.

Hidden at the back of the New Testament section of the Bible in the little book of Jude – little book, big punch!  In it Jude exhorts followers of Jesus to “Just do it”.  So what does he tell them to do?

  • build yourselves up in faith
  • pray
  • keep yourselves in the love of God
  • wait for Jesus’ return

Easy – no difficult words there.  So why are we am I so poor at taking action?

Back in the 70s (and maybe still today), there was a belief that to be truly spiritual you had to “let go and let God.”  In other words, just sit back, trust God and you would morph into the spiritual being that he wanted you to be. It took me a long time and much Bible reading to realise that that is not good advice.  I read right through the Bible and was impressed with the persistent emphasis on being intentional about a relationship with God. (Before you brand me as a heretic, I’m not advocating that I can ever earn or merit that relationship. My salvation is truly, as the Reformers realised, by faith alone.) I need to partner with God in my growth.

The iconic tick in the Bible comes in these words of Jesus:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

These words should be enough, but sadly we’re often reluctant to take their implementation to heart. (Francis Chan, an American preacher, has a neat little YouTube video about doing what Jesus says. Watch it here, laugh, and learn.)

So I am in no doubt that I need to JDI.

Interestingly, with the JDI campaign, Nike was able to attract those who wanted the image without incurring the pain.  People bought shoes with no intention of using them for sport.  (A staggering 80% of sports shoes sold in the U.S. are never used for the activities for which they have been designed.)  I wonder if the “let go and let God” camp is like that – just sign up for “spirituality” and never mind the nitty gritty of working hard at understanding the Bible, at getting to know God better, at praying, at loving others. Soren Kierkegaard is not usually my bedtime reading but I came across this journal entry from 1938 which summed it up for me –

“There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys; their cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves.”

We are designed to connect with God, to work out our own sums, so let’s get on with it.





Does the sun shine on a cloudy day?

27 11 2011

Do you know the best known Bible verse?  It  is “God helps those who help themselves”.  Apparently the Barna Group did research in the US and it came out top of the poll.  Are you surprised? You should be!

It is surprising because it’s not in the Bible at all.  In fact it goes against much of the Bible’s teaching about grace (see for example Romans 5:6-8).  However, I think there’s some truth in it.

Here’s why.

Tucked right at the back of the Bible, in the book of Jude, is this little sentence – “Keep yourselves in God’s love.”  It doesn’t say that we can manage life by ourselves, but rather that we have a choice – we can choose to be in God’s love or not.  Of course, there are the sentences in the book of Romans ( 8:35-39) which offer assurance about God keeping believers in his love no matter what. 

King David in the Old Testament is also recorded as taking a proactive option – “David strengthened himself with trust in his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).  It’s not an “I can cope very well on my own thank you” attitude, but a choosing to trust God when the chips are down.

It’s a dance, a partnership.  There is ultimate security in God’s love and faithfulness – the sun is always shining.  But we can help ourselves by trusting our partner’s lead.  We can choose day to day, in the moment, to see only the clouds, or to remember that the sun is still shining and to keep ourselves in his love.

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