Evaluating "Just Do It!" as a Christian


One of the common proverbs of American culture is Nike’s slogan: “Just Do It!”

Similar ideas are expressed by Adidas (“Impossible Is Nothing”) and Under Armour (“I Will”).

These inspiring sayings motivate us to act boldly, persevere through suffering, overcome challenges, and achieve our goals.

In some ways, these slogans reflect something deep within the human heart.

We yearn to find the strength to get “it” done - whatever the particular challenge.

They strike me as an echo of Joshua 1:9,

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Israelites were hesitant and afraid to enter the Promised Land.

Yet, God says, because I am with you and because I have commanded you, just do it! Impossible is nothing when God is with you! Because I will that you go, you should will that you go.

Likewise, James 1:12 reads, “Blessed is the one who endures trials because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

While the original context of these marketing messages is to overcome athletic trials, they can point to the deeper trial: the trials of suffering and temptations. As much as we want strength to accomplish physical challenges, how much more do we want strength to achieve spiritual victory?

However, this message can also induce despair. What if we don’t have the strength? What if we don’t achieve victory? There is no one to blame but ourselves.

These messages can also foster an individual pursuit of excellence at the cost of finding strength in our community.

These messages exalt the strong, powerful, and successful. However, we see the value of all people, whether or not they are high status or low status.

Actually, these slogans can become bad news to the poor, elderly, or disabled. Due to their circumstances, their ability to meet the challenge of these messages is frustrated.

Possibly, these slogans could also encourage impulsiveness. If you have a goal, go after it! But what goal is worth going after? Though these companies want to support anyone’s athletic goals, their desire for increasing market share leaves them unable or unwilling to explain what goals are really worth achieving in this life.

Additionally, there are no ethical boundaries to these inspiring words. They validate achievement at all costs. But even in sports, there are ethics, rules, and norms that should be respected.

The Apostle Paul spoke to this issue more deeply. He said, “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

What are we called to do? Faithfulness.

How are we able to be faithful? With God’s faithfulness to us.

This is a path we can all walk - together - with God’s help.

I think the Scriptures offer a better story.

Where do we find our goals? From the purpose that God has established for us - to know him as we participate in the life of his kingdom.

How do we accomplish our goals? With the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance in the community of God’s people.

How do we handle failure and temptation? Not only by trying again, or trying harder, but by admitting our vulnerabilities, experiencing grace, and remembering that we are loved.

Perhaps a better phrase than “Just Do It,” is, “Just Do What God Says.”

Instead of “Impossible Is Nothing,” we might say, “Impossible is nothing with God.”

Instead of “I Will,” we might say, “God Will.”

How do you evaluate these common sayings?

What value do they offer us as we seek to be fully human?

How might they lead us astray?

How do they point us to what God is already doing in our lives?

How can we adapt them to fit our faith?