No More "Nike" Christianity

After the picnic on Sunday I crashed in front of the tube to watch the final round of the Masters golf tournament.

Have to admit, I was curious to see if Tiger would rise from the ashes and win his first major since his crash and burn.

As always he sported the Nike insignia on his person, a living billboard for the sportswear giant. Who doesn’t know the motto that goes with the logo?

I wonder how many Christians approach their spiritual lives with the same mentality. I just need to do it. I’ll just try harder. I’ll spend more time in the Bible, pray more, memorize more Scriptures, etc, etc, etc. Just do it. That’s the ticket to God’s being pleased with me.

Don’t get me wrong. These means OF grace matter. But when they become means FOR grace we’ve missed the boat altogether. Means of grace serve to connect us to the One who died for us to wipe the slate clean of the guilt of our sin AND to apply the 100% righteousness of Christ to our spiritual accounts. This is huge. It means that God looks on us and deals with us as if we had perfectly obeyed the law because Jesus obeyed it for us. He is our righteousness and we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). They do nothing in the way of meriting acceptance before God. There is nothing more we can do in that regard. Jesus did it all for us.

This is why we must not live a “Nike” form of Christianity, but rather a Cross-centered form of Christianity.

Lane and Tripp explain in How People Change:

Do you know what it means to live a Cross-centered life on a daily basis? Some Christians think that the Cross is what you need to become a Christian and get to heaven. They think, I need my sins forgiven so that I escape God’s judgment when I die. But once that is taken care of, what matters is that I follow Christ’s example. I need to roll up my sleeves and get to work! The tricky thing about this perspective is that it is partially correct. You do actively pursue the obedience that comes from faith (Rom. 1:5; 16:26; Gal. 5:6). You do engage in spiritual warfare! However, you are never to minimize your continuing need for the mercy and power of Christ in the process of becoming like him (emphasis added, p. 183).

This means that we need daily to keep coming back to verses like Romans 12:1 – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. The mercies of God make us holy and acceptable in His sight. That’s why we can present our bodies to Him for His use.

We need daily to keep coming back to verses like Hebrews 10:14 – For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Jesus’ death accomplished our perfecting in God’s sight. The tense of the verb communicates a past action with ongoing consequences. This status never changes regardless of our goof ups! It’s on that basis that we experience the ongoing transformation that is our sanctification, being made holy as He is holy.

We need daily to keep coming back to verses like Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But PC, I just lost my temper for the umpteenth time. I just took another look at that website I had no business clicking on. I just turned yet another time to my idol of choice for comfort in the face of temptation. What do you mean there is no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus? Just what I said. Paul’s words not mine. This deal is not about our performance; it’s about His provision.

Forget about “Nike” Christianity. Just do it gets you no where. Why not rather adopt the Cross-centered Christianity motto?

Just believe it.

I’d like somebody to make a logo for that. I’d put it on my sport shirt in a heartbeat.

2 responses

  1. PC,
    Thank you for continually pointing us to the sufficiency of Christ, both in new life and growth in godliness! I too was inspired to write a post after watching the Masters. I was fascinated by young Rory’s implosion, and the continual reference to the fear and courage involved in golf. I think there is a direct link between taking our life into our own hands and the resulting fear that can become quite debilitating (such as we saw in Rory McIlroy on Sunday). Here is the link if you are interested.

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