I have little desire to delve into the Colin Kaepernick debate. I don’t feel I have much to add, and I am not sure in the present environment many minds or hearts would be changed.
But I do want to reflect on the Nike ad and what it says about worth.
The message of the ad is encouraging and aspirational. The ad says that being a fast runner is not enough, be the fastest, ever. Make sure your team is the greatest. Don’t let people say your dreams are crazy. Don’t settle, be better.
A friend of mine shared the ad on social media and said this will preach. I think he is correct. The gospel of be the greatest, don’t settle, work harder is the default gospel preached in many churches. Faith is about succeeding, getting ahead, being the best. Faith is being your best you.
We reduce Paul’s words of encouragement to mantras that allow us to get a raise, to get a promotion, or lift a few more pounds.
It reinforces a consumeristic culture which assumes that bigger is better.
When our faith embodies this message we preach a gospel counter the gospel of Jesus.
The problem is not positive, encouraging stories. The problem is when we think this is how faith works.
Jesus’ definition of success runs counter to the wider message of what success looks like. It is not about working harder, believing more, or any other acts of faith. The Kingdom of God is not about being the best or the fastest. The Kingdom of God is about being the least.
“The life of grace is not an effort on our part to achieve a goal we set ourselves. It is a continually renewed attempt simply to believe that someone else has done all the achieving that is needed and to live in relationship with that person, whether we achieve or not. If that doesn’t seem like much to you, you’re right: it isn’t. And, as a matter of fact, the life of grace is even less than that. It’s not even our life at all, but the life of that Someone Else rising like a tide in the ruins of our death.” Robert Capon