Following Christ in a “Just Do It” Culture

From 1988 to 1998, Nike, an American company known worldwide for its footwear and sports apparel, increased its share of the domestic sport-shoe business from a respectable18% to a whopping 43%.  A major reason for this growth was the successful advertising campaign built around the phrase, “Just Do It.”  The slogan not only increased the popularity of Nike’s product line, it also became one of the top two tag lines of the 20th century.

In the American culture, “Just Do It” is more than just a slogan.  It reflects our innate desire to win, to succeed, and to find a sense of accomplishment.  No one loves a loser, and no one sets out to become a loser.  We love the challenge of overcoming the odds, and getting things done. People with strong activating talents can identify with “Just Do It.” For them, it is a battle cry, a motto, a life-long mantra.  While the “Just Do It” person may appreciate analyzing, evaluating and strategizing; he or she is only fully satisfied when tasks are accomplished.

Contemporary American culture places a high value on action. The advertising-saturated mass media constantly reaffirms our bias for action over reflection.  Too much planning and thinking comes across as indecisiveness.  We do not like rules that hinder or impede the progress of accomplishment. From an early age we are taught things like:  “action is the path to success,” “actions speak louder than words,” and “talk is cheap.” The conclusion to all of this is, “Don’t think about it, just do it!”

Does the “Just Do It” culture influence the way we live as Christians?  If so, does it help or hinder our goal of glorifying God, and advancing His Kingdom? Does it make us more like Christ, or does it conform us to the molds of this world?  Is a “”just do it” attitude a blessing or a curse?  Actually, it can be both. In some ways it is a help, but in many other ways, it is a hindrance.

On one hand, the Bible tells us to put our faith into action. Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15 ESV) James said, “Faith without works is dead.”  (James 2:17)  In addition, John the Apostle said, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18 NIV) The Bible is full of action.  Jesus called His followers to leave everything and follow Him. Speaking of His own ministry, Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4 ESV)

Conversely, everything Jesus did, and everything He called His disciples to do, was mapped out by God as part of a plan designed before “the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4) From His birth to His crucifixion, Jesus followed His Father’s plan and purpose. Before choosing His twelve disciples, He spent the night in prayer, seeking His Father’s face. In fact, Jesus often retreated from the busy and hectic schedule of teaching and healing, to spend time alone with His Father, and to meditate in the plans His Father had in store for Him.

The early disciples followed His example.  From the Day of Pentecost forward; every sermon, every miracle, every ministry, and every missionary journey carried out by the first century believers was accomplished according to God’s plan and under the direction of His Spirit.

Therefore, the “Just Do It” slogan may sound good in our culture, and it may sell a lot of shoes and sports apparel; but it is not the way God wants us to pursue His purpose for our lives. Furthermore, a “Just Do It” mind-set can be detrimental and dangerous for the follower of Christ.

It is vitally important for us to learn to “wait upon the Lord” and seek His guidance.

“Just do it” folks tend to get the cart before the horse. Too often, their way of getting things done is “Ready. . . Shoot . . . Aim.”  Failing to seek God’s wisdom and the guidance of His Spirit often results in shooting before aiming.  Not only do they miss the mark, they actually hinder the advancement of God’s Kingdom.  This is why God’s Word tells us to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” (Psalms 37:7 KJV), and to “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”  (Psalms 55:6 ESV) As we wait and seek His face, we must also listen for His voice.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 ESV)

Only through waiting on Him, seeking Him, and listening to His voice can we truly know Him and understand His purpose for our lives.  Knowing Him leads to glorifying Him, and when we glorify Him we bring honor to His name.

An added benefit to waiting on the Lord is the spiritual nourishment we receive from Him. Isaiah said, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31 ESV)

“Just Do It” may be a good slogan for selling tennis shoes, but following Christ requires much more.  Do not allow the culture’s bias for action lead you to act or react without seeking God’s wisdom and guidance.  Don’t allow the pragmatism of the “Just Do It” culture to hinder or hurt your walk with God just because you feel you need to get things done.  Nothing is as important as your relationship with the Father, and nothing can replace waiting on the Lord and seeking His face.

Larry Doyle

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About Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry S. Doyle is the Director of Missions of the Piedmont Baptist Association He has served as Director of Missions since September 1, 2003. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as IMB/SBC missionaries in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. He then came to the Triad to pastor the Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville, NC from 1992 to 2000. He and his wife served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief in Honduras from January 2000 to January 2001. Dr. Doyle was the International Ministries Director for the Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC from 2001 to 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of three. They attend Calvary Baptist Church in McLeansville.
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