Tennis Shoe Christianity

Tennis Shoe Christianity

College and professional sports on television generate a lot of athletic shoe commercials. Some are misleading. Think about it. They take the most celebrated athletes in sports. They’ve got sweat dripping down from their faces. They’re dunking the ball, they’re running past cars on the streets, and they’re smacking the baseball out of the stadium, all because they are wearing an expensive pair of shoes. They want you to imagine that you could be doing those things if you would wear their $150 tennis shoes instead of Wal-Mart’s $30 pair. Or at least, if you wear them, you have the same status as an athlete.

I’ll give Nike credit for one thing. They picked a biblical name. Did you know that Nike comes right out of Romans chapter 8? “Nike” is Greek which means “conqueror.”

Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Do you know what troubles me about this verse? It’s not that Nike used the word for conqueror. It’s not that it’s difficult to understand. It’s not that Paul is ambiguous or confusing. What troubles me is that many Christians don’t believe it!

In verses prior to this, Paul mentioned tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and martyrdom. These are the things that make us doubt the love of God. Then Paul corrects our doubt by stating the truth: that these things cannot come between the love of God and a Christian. The solid foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and never can be. This love is the reason that “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” We are more than conquerors, because through Christ, God’s love gives us peace in the midst of things which look like they will overwhelm us.

The next verses, 38 and 39, say, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No ruler, no power, can rip us away from Christ! And they’ve tried. Consider 2000 years of Christian martyrs. They’re still trying in China, North Korea, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan. Neither is there an angel nor a demon strong enough to separate us from God’s love through Jesus Christ!

Only you have the free will to separate yourself from God and experience all the consequences of your choice. But even in your sin, God will still love you and keep calling you to return to Him.

So, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Paul asks, rhetorically. The logical answer is “NO ONE!” No one can defeat us because God is the ultimate power.

An old country preacher was challenged by a highly educated agnostic. The skeptic asked, “Why do you Christians constantly claim victory in Jesus?”

The old preacher replied: “Well, Son, it says in the beginning of my Bible that He was in charge when time started up. Then I flips over to the end of my Bible and reads that He will be in charge when time runs down. So I figure, that twixt the beginning and twixt the end, there weren’t nobody else big enough to whoop ‘em!”

Jesus said the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church. Nevertheless, at times, we all feel like we’re fighting against powers that are too great to defeat. How can we defeat forces strong enough to overturn the moral structure of our nation and bring so many hardships?

All down through history, there have been strongholds of darkness: communism, fascism, immorality, persecution. But God has always brought down the wicked and brought the Church out victoriously.

We are plagued by evil, in this world and in ourselves, that obscures God’s true feelings toward us. But God displayed to the world, His love in all its matchless tenderness and grandeur.

Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!

If you question God’s love, His Sovereignty, His purpose and plan, or His promises, look at His provision for our salvation. He gave His only Son. He delivered Him up for us all!

Romans 5:9-11 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 5:21 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Considering these true statements, who is it that could accuse the righteous of God? Surely not our heavenly Father; for He has justified us. Shall Jesus? No, for He died to reconcile us, to give us His righteousness, and lives to intercede on our behalf. Shall the Holy Spirit? No, He helps us in our prayers, guides us, and teaches us. Shall Satan? No, for the accuser of God's people has been cast down; and God doesn’t listen to him. Satan makes accusations to us, but we have power over the devil in the Name of Jesus, and we don’t have to listen to him neither.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Can the trials or the temptations of life, which seem to triumph in my weakness, alienate me from the love of Christ? Will God love me less, though in weakness I shame Him or the Church? Would He welcome me back with open arms, just as He did when I first believed the Gospel? Will He love me less because of my sins? No, He will love me no less! You may love me less, but God won’t, for my sin and failures have been atoned for by Jesus on the Cross. He is faithful even when I am unfaithful.

Rom 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Since we are obviously weak, how can we claim to be conquerors? Let's face it, we didn't conquer anything. We didn't conquer death. We didn't conquer Hell. We didn't conquer sin. Jesus did. We are just reaping His blessings from the work He has already done on the cross on our behalf. That is why, through Christ, we are not just conquerors, we are more than conquerors!

For example, through Christ, we have more than conquered trouble.

Jesus said in John 16:33, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Trouble is certain. Jesus said we will have it in this world. But troubles don’t separate us from His love. They are more likely to cause us to cling to Him more closely. And with all of the pain of tribulation, there is growth. Even in nature we see that resistance causes strength. Through Christ, we conquer trouble and gain something valuable because of the trial.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Because we have more than conquered trouble by looking at Jesus and seeing the joy set before us, we also through Christ Jesus, have more than conquered anxiety.

Matthew 6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Unbelievers live for all the pleasure they can get, blissfully ignoring the danger they're in. Do not envy them. Inside, they are anxious about tomorrow. So, their motto is “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.” But, they are also uncertain about what will happen when they die. They have no real peace. They try to find security, peace, and joy in how much money and material things they can accumulate, but they never get enough. They joke about going to Hell and tell themselves it doesn’t really exist, but they are worried about being wrong. To feel better about themselves, they belittle your faith.

Job 20:4-5 Do you not know this from of old, since man was placed on earth, that the exulting of the wicked is short, and the joy of the godless but for a moment?

Through Jesus, we have His promise that our Father will meet all of our needs now and tomorrow. We rest in the love of God to take care of us while we walk according to His Spirit and not according to our flesh. And we have His promise of eternal life and the blessings of Heaven in the future. Therefore, we have true peace and joy. Through Jesus, we are more than conquerors over anxiety.

Furthermore, through Jesus, we have more than conquered the fear of persecution and death.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

If you don't want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, the world will love you. The world will embrace you and keep you as their own. If you genuinely love Christ, your name will be slandered and you will be rejected by the world. At some point, people will make false, damaging, or insulting statements about you because of your faith.

John 15:19-20 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

The wickedness of the world cannot stand the righteousness of God's saints. It shouldn't surprise us that sinners sin and the ungodly commit godless acts. Neither should we be surprised when they hate us and commit evil against us.

The world always has and always will search your past for sins long since forgotten. Anything to label you as a hypocrite, liar, bigot, Nazi, Islamaphobe, homophobe, Bible-thumper, hater, Holy Roller, racist, or religious nut. Get used to it and expect it! There is no reason to fear it, for when this happens, you are blessed. You are more than a conqueror. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who is the reason for their hatred, and who conquered their persecution by rising from the dead!

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The world is saying, “We will only tolerate you if you agree with us.” Sadly, some Christians think, “We aren't going to win anybody unless we adjust to the modern world”. As if the world’s standards are the new basis for truth. As if loving someone by telling them the truth is mean. As if honesty is cruel. As if holiness and biblical integrity are somehow evil things.

Some Christians fear the disapproval of the world so much they talk themselves into believing they must become worldly to win the world. They must submit to darkness to smuggle in the light. No! We are the light and we are to expose and expel darkness! We are ambassadors for Jesus Christ! We represent the Truth!

God doesn't give us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of POWER and LOVE and a SOUND MIND! Let the light of Jesus shine! Let the persecution come and embrace it. Above all, show the love of Christ to those who persecute you! That is how we become more than conquerors and make converts of Jesus Christ.

Today, there is much confusion in the Church, because many pastors are trying not to offend anyone, not to hurt anyone, trying to accommodate everyone, to please and appease everyone, so that they are allowing every wicked thing to go on right in front of their faces.

Some of you are doing wicked things. I am going to love you by telling you the truth with gentleness and kindness, giving you an opportunity to repent before something happens to you that you will regret. That is the loving thing to do. It is like telling someone their house is on fire so they can escape—and in a way, while you are walking in sin, your “house” is on fire!

Hebrews 10:26-27 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

Besides, telling you the truth is what Jesus would do. Jesus stood boldly before the chief priests and scribes—the religious people—and He told them the truth about the Messiah, even though He knew it would bring accusations, persecutions, and eventually lead to His crucifixion. And yet, He never capitulated to receive their approval. In Christ, we can suffer persecution and rejection all day long, and yet we are still more than conquerors!

Everything they use to discourage and destroy us, we can use to encourage and empower us! We embrace their mockery. They may cause us tears, but we can rejoice with the apostles, that we are counted worthy to suffer for the Name of Jesus! That makes us more than conquerors!

Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.

The truth is there will be times when life seems overwhelming. However, Scripture makes it clear that we can live every moment of our lives in victory. How do we do that? Through total surrender. Total surrender unto Christ leads to total victory in Christ. Whatever happens to us is not nearly as important as what God does in us.

Nothing will ever be able to defeat us as long as we remain in Christ. The love of Christ gives us the strength to get through anything that life can throw at us. Christ has the power to carry us through every trial we ever face. There will never be a time that we will ever need to wonder if Christ is with us. He said He will never leave us or forsake us; that He will be with us forever.

These are God’s promises to those in Christ. If you have not given your life to Christ, you do not possess these promises. Instead, you have the certainty of spending eternity in Hell. However, you can give your life to Jesus today if you believe He is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross. To show you believe, publicly confess Him as your Lord and Savior, repent of your sin, and follow Jesus through death and resurrection by being baptized and born again of the Holy Spirit, who will make you a “Nike”, more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ!