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.





Who do you think you are?

30 12 2011

There’s something surprisingly emotional about finding out about our ancestors, as evidenced in the popular TV programme Who do you think you are?

Many people begin with a vague curiosity and end up with a compulsion to find their roots. The programme researchers help them find out who they are.

Matthew is our researcher about who Jesus is.

Jesus’ roots go right back to Abraham, the accredited father of the Jewish nation. Matthew establishes Jesus’ connections with everything that has gone before and alludes to the Old Testament more that any other gospel writer. His original readers are primarily Jewish – he doesn’t need to explain Jewish customs and he uses Jewish terminology. He, like Paul, wants to provide evidence that Jesus is the promised Messiah. But Matthew also makes it clear that the good news of Jesus is for everybody – he begins with the Jews and ends with “all nations.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

In Matthew’s opinion Jesus, the Saviour, is Emmanuel – God with us.

But there is doubt about Jesus’ identity and his credentials even amongst his followers (16:13-16) and strong emotions amongst those who listen to him, which in the end lead to his death (26:65 and Luke 23:6-12).

If you listen to the song you will hear Herod’s verdict – “Get out of my life.”

It’s a common response.

I’m haunted, however, by Jesus’ question to his followers -“But who do you say I am?” The answer carries life-changing implications.

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